By Paul Goble
There is one and only one characteristic of Putin’s war in Ukraine that resembles a civil war: because both Ukrainians and Russians were part of one country in Soviet times, many in the one nation attended the same military schools and served in the same military units as those in the other.
That means that many in each army know more about the thinking in the other than might be the case otherwise and it means that many Ukrainians now civilians remember their earlier service in the Soviet army and use it in unexpected ways to defend themselves and their country against Russian invaders.
Aleksandr Shvets, the editor of the Fakty internet journal, reports on one of the forms this has taken (gordonua.com/blogs/aleksandr-shvec/veterany-sovetskoy-armii-zhivushchie-pod-kievom-ubezhdali-rossiyskih-voennyh-uhodit-nazad-te-otvechali-chto-za-nimi-stoyat-zagradotryady-kadyrovcev-1607785.html).
He reports that one Ukrainian told him that along the line of the front, there were “veterans of the Soviet army” among the Ukrainians, people who “at one time graduated frm the same military schools as the Russian paratroopers who have come to Ukraine on what they assumed would be ‘a business trip.’”
“’It’s better to surrender to the Ukrainian army,’” his interlocutor said “they assured the boys in Russian uniforms, who did not fully understand what the hell they were doing here. ‘At least you will be able to save your life. Ukrainians will fight to the end, because this is our land these are our homes, this is our country, and we have nowhere to retreat.’”
“’What are you doing here? What are you risking your life for?… Go back!’” And in response they heard one and the same thing from the Russians: “There, behind us, are Kadyrov’s detachments. They won’t let us out of here alive…’”