ISSN 2330-717X

Putin Potentially Transforming ‘An Imperialist War Into A Civil One’ – OpEd


In order to replace combat losses and boost the size of Russian forces in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has ordered the regions and republics of the Russian Federation to form their own volunteer units, an action that raises the possibility that what is today “an imperialist war” will become “a civil one,” according to Kharun Sidorov.


For a discussion of Putin’s plans, their origin in the Chechen battalions, and their pluses and minuses, see this author’s Jamestown EDM article, “Moscow Turns ot Regions to Replace Losses and Boost Forces in Ukraine” (

The Prague-based commentator’s conclusion, however, merits attention on its own. He suggests that whatever gains the Kremlin may get out of this project, it will be creating yet another force that will threaten its future and even the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation Putin is so obsessed with maintaining (

Battalions consisting of volunteers from one or another region or republic will gain military experience, the kind of thing they are unlikely to forget and may very well decide to make use of, with some being on one side of future barricades and others being on the other, Sidorov suggests.

To be sure, he continues, it is today impossible to predict just what kind of clashes may emerge. “But one thing can be asserted with confidence: the creation of such ‘volunteer battalions’ in republics clearly raises the potential for the transformation in the future of imperialist wars into civil ones,” if not in the case of the war in Ukraine then in some other.

If that is true, Putin and his call for the creation of volunteer battalions complected of people from particular oblasts, krays and republics may come to be viewed by some Russians in the future as a landmine placed under Russia in much the same way that the Kremlin leader blame Lenin for creating the non-Russian republics and leading to the end of the USSR.


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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