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Ukrainian President Calls On Non-Russians Within Russia To Fight Russian Imperialism – OpEd

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has issued a video appeal to the indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation, calling on them to refuse to serve in the Russian army fighting in Ukraine and urging them to fight more generally for their own nations and against Russian imperialism.

Below is an informal translation of his remarks (president.gov.ua/ru/news/zvernennya-prezidenta-ukrayini-do-korinnih-narodiv-rosiyi-bo-78137):

Peoples of the Caucasus!

Now, I am in that part of Kyiv where in the 1860s lived Imam Shamil, the hero of Daghestan and the entire Caucasus. As you see, Ukraine respects your heroes. We keep alive the memory of those places which unite the cultures of our peoples.

This is the very center of our capital city, one of the hundreds of Ukrainian cities against which the Russian powers are sending rockets, bombs and armed men. The Caucasus knows what this means. The Caucasus has seen it.

For 218 days already, we have been defending ourselves against those who have more missiles and more people than we but who are completely lacking in decency. This is a vile war by Russia, a criminal one. And we are doing everything we can to protect our people and the independence of Ukraine. This is our sacred duty to our parents, our children, and to all the generations of our people past, present and future.

58,500 Russian soldiers have already died in Ukraine. They came to kill us and they died. The powers in Russia aren’t telling you this. They are lying and claim that only about six thousand have died. But the truth is that 58,500 have. All have died because of a war which only one man wants. Only one wants but many serve him.

Peoples of the Caucasus         ! All the peoples on the territory of Russia! You do not have a single reason to be among those who serve this one man who wants war. You must not die in Ukraine. Your sons must not die in Ukraine. You have no responsibility or duty to do so, not before your fathers nor before your children, nor before your future or the future of your land. And you know this.

We see that you are resisting the criminal mobilization by which the Russian powers want to cover their losses, the failures of their army and their criminal orders. They are lying to you when they say there are no such failures.

Instead of ending this senseless war, the Russian powers are trying to send new people in place of htose who have died. What awaits them all? You know the answer.

Ukraine will continue to defend itself and will win this war which has been unleashed against us. Because we are on our own land and because truth is on our side as is the entire civilized world. We are fighting for the rights of any people on the planet, for life and freedom, for the right to happiness for all our families and all our children.

Russia remains alone. It is already isolated and will be condemned for this war. The Kremlin does not seem to know Imam Shamil’s words that ‘anyone who raises his sword against truth raises it to his death.’ But these words of his should be known throughout the Caucasus, in Siberia and in all other lands from which people are being sent to fight in this war.

And now mobilization: fight against it so as not to die! Defend your freedom now in the streets so that you don’t hve to fight later in the mountains and forests simply for your right to live as could happen when the Russian powers begin the next waves of mobilization.

Do you really believe they will take only 300,000? The individual who started this war won’t stop at that. There will be more. He will try to take other lives as well. He doesn’t care about people. He respects neither the living nor the dead.

Thousands of bodies of dead Russian soldiers from different regions remain in Ukraine. They rot in the fields and they are stored in morgues. And those are only the ones the Russian army didn’t burn. As it is, the Russian forces are the only army in the world which has mobile crematoria to dispose of bodies and hide these losses. Now, this army is retreating so fast that it leaves not only weapons but the dead as well. 

Just think what things have come to! We are forced to provide information to Russian citizens and suggest that those who are being mobilized now be tattooed with their names so that we will know how to find your relatives when you are killed and don’t even have a soldier’s badge. Atpresent, the Russian government sends people to this war without dog tags and often without documents. They do this on purpose to make it easier for them to lie about how many people actually die there. This is their ‘special operation, one based on lies, terror, and the destruction of indigenous peoples.” 

During the first week of the criminal mobilization, more men fled from Russia that the Russian government was officially planning to send to the war. How does the Kremlin react? It sends its army against the very same citizens of Russia! This is shameful, and it lies more with pseudo-referendums and other actions that will bring Russia even greater disgrace.

No one should take part in such a shameful war. Daghestanis should not die in Ukraine nor should Chechens, Ingush, Ossetians, Circassians or any other people now under the Russian flag. There are almost 200 different nations in all … You know who is sending them to Ukraine. He only wants them to come back if at all as dead. 

Is that what you want? No? I’m sure you want to live. I’m sure you are tired of the lies. I’m sure you know whom and what to fight against now.

To force citizens of Russia to go to war, Moscow has artificially driven them into poverty and frightened them with repression. But you can change this. You simply need to understand who is the real enemy and who is the real hero, who is the one who wants to take advantage of you and who is the pride of your history.

The time has come to fight and fight again.  

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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