putin’s bet on mobilization for the war in Ukraine, primarily units from subsidized russian national republics, gave an unexpected result for the kremlin.
At least 23 volunteer battalions with a staff of 400 to 600 people have been formed in 12 national subjects of the rf. All battalions of the subjects of the russian federation employ “nominal” names and a clear territorial reference based on ethnicity or region. Even in conventionally russian regions there are suggestions to create ethnically homogeneous units. For example, in Perm region, according to the initiative of the organization “Society of Central Asian Uzbeks of Perm region”, it is planned to create a battalion of ethnic Uzbeks called “Amir Timur”. In response to the initiative, the government of Uzbekistan promised to prosecute all its citizens who will go to fight in Ukraine for mercenary activities. Currently, there are only Tuvan, Ossetian and Chechen volunteers in the combat zone, as well as several companies from other regions.
As it turned out, military units formed on the ethnic or regional principle do not have proper motivation to die for the moscow political elite. The worse the situation on the Ukrainian front becomes, the stronger anti-war sentiments are manifested both among the combatants of the national battalions and among their relatives.
Given the aggravation of the economic crisis and the dramatic decline in living standards in the national republics and the success of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region, social tension in these subjects of the russian federation with the creation of nominal volunteer battalions is becoming really explosive for the kremlin authorities, as now the regions have their own armed forces. Obviously, the local regional elites and ethnic clans of Tyva, Buryatia, Kalmykia, Dagestan, North Ossetia and Ingushetia, if necessary, can “switch” compatriots from participating in the war for the sake of the dubious idea of “unity of Ukrainians and russians” to the unfair situation of their own people and the struggle for independence from russia.
And there are prerequisites for this – local anti-war movements are actively developing in the regions. The first ethnic anti-war initiative in russia has become the foundation “Free Buryatia”, which provides legal support to contract soldiers willing to fight in Ukraine. After the outbreak of hostilities, an anti-war movement “Kalmyks against the war” appeared in Kalmykia, whose members call on their countrymen not to participate in hostilities on the territory of Ukraine. Dorji Mandzhiev, the organizer of this anti-war movement, is convinced that “the war has become an impetus for the self-consciousness of the peoples in the national republics, and the anti-war movement is only a starting point for further struggle for federalization not only on paper. If the issue is not resolved, it may lead to civil war”. In Yakutia, those who disagree with the war created the Sakha vs War community, which operates underground and condemns military aggression by the kremlin both against sovereign states (Georgia, Syria, Ukraine) and within russian regions (Chechnya).
In the conditions of over-centralization, it is moscow that provokes the conflicts that ultimately lead to the potential split of the country. Economic sanctions reduce the financial and economic support of the republics from the federal budget, which neutralizes the kremlin’s attempts to maintain control over the regional elites and only leads to increased conflict between local elites and the central government.
Former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, General Ben Hodges, points to several factors that can lead to the collapse of the russian federation:
the decline of internal trust in the russian army, which has traditionally been the basis of the kremlin’s legitimacy. The mass refusal of russian men to enlist in the army has exacerbated the disproportionate recruitment of ethnic minorities from remote regions of russia, which could provoke national uprisings across the country. According to the general, if Chechens decide to unleash another war for independence, putin will not find military resources to counter them.
the loss of russia’s energy and arms markets, which previously compensated for the lack of modern industry, resulting in the russian economy being unable to maintain an adequate standard of living for the population.
relative sparsity of population of certain territories owned by the country.
Analysts of the Center for Countering Disinformation at the NSDC have prepared a longread on the topic: Did putin really dismiss shoigu from commanding the “special operation” and why? Find more details at the link: cpd.gov.ua/main/prychyny-jmovirnogo-vidstoronennya/