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The Russian republic of Chechnya is intimately intertwined with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Having battled Russian forces in an unsuccessful bid for independence in the 1990s, Chechens know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of Moscow’s military might. But from that experience, they also know how to dole out punishment against Russian forces.
At present, Chechens are fighting on both sides of the Russo-Ukrainian War, reported the Washington Post. Some are helping Ukraine resist Russia, citing their experiences fighting against Kremlin leaders’ imperial designs. These people are especially courageous, argued France 24, because they face imprisonment and torture if they fall into the hands of Russian soldiers or Chechen militia units allied with Russia.
Meanwhile, many Chechen fighters from the Muslim-majority region in the Caucasus Mountains are part of a so-called shadow mobilization to bolster the Russian army’s flagging manpower, Radio Free Europe explained. The Caucasus, incidentally, has Russia’s lowest living standards and income levels.
Chechen Republic leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who once fought against Russia as a separatist guerilla, has asked the Russian military to request more Chechen troops to fight in Ukraine to “get even with our blood enemies,” added Newsweek.
Despite the attraction of a military paycheck, Chechen officials seeking to fill quotas or demonstrate loyalty to Putin have also allegedly used “intimidation, blackmail, or threats of torture and kidnapping” to compel men to “volunteer” for military service, the Moscow Times wrote.
And as the fighting rages, other parallels are developing between Chechnya and Ukraine. “Images of the devastated city of Mariupol are eerily reminiscent of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, which was leveled by Russian forces in a brutal war that went through two phases in the mid-1990s and the early 2000s,” wrote CNN.
Putin’s plan for Ukraine is similar to what he has created in Chechnya, argued Armenia-based journalist Neil Hauser in the Atlantic. The Russian president wants to demolish cities to demonstrate Russian power and suzerainty, install dependable local rulers like Kadyrov and create an atmosphere of fear that destroys civil society and the political landscape, making people easier to rule.
Researchers at the Wilson Center, a Washington-based think tank, also believe that the conflicts in Ukraine and Chechnya echoed one another. High levels of civilian deaths, war crimes and propaganda wars marked both wars, they added.
These two conflicts may have many parallels. But the ending to the conflict in Ukraine has yet to be written.