Resisting imperialism: Siberia’s ethnic minorities fight on the side of Ukraine’s Armed Forces

October 31,2023 2159
Resisting imperialism: Siberia’s ethnic minorities fight on the side of Ukraine’s Armed Forces

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have created a new unit of Russian volunteers, mostly from the Siberian peoples. The Russian citizens in the Ukrainian military are committed to fighting Russian imperialism, journalists reported. 

Most of the 50 members of the unit came from Russia through third countries to get to Ukraine. Currently, a group of 20 Russians is practicing shooting with assault rifles and machine guns at a shooting range near Kyiv; some of the Siberian Battalion fighters are already ready for combat, the Armed Forces said. The unit includes both ethnic Russians with long-standing opposition views and representatives of ethnic minorities. 

“Many people in Buryatia [a subject of the Russian Federation ed.] were forcibly mobilized into the Russian Armed Forces, while others were tempted by the military’s salaries, which are sometimes ten times higher than the average salary in the region,” a 29-year-old Russian soldier with the call sign ‘Buryat’ told reporters. 

The Russian army has a disproportionate number of soldiers from Buryatia, as well as some other Russian regions where indigenous peoples live, Radio Liberty adds, citing analysts.

The Ukrainian World Congress condemns Russia’s policy toward indigenous peoples. Moscow is pursuing a systemic policy of forced assimilation of the indigenous peoples it has enslaved, and is systematically destroying their cultural heritage, traditions, language, and national memory. It is not surprising that representatives of Siberian national minorities make up a disproportionate share of those mobilized into the Russian army for the war against Ukraine.

In response to this criminal policy of the Putin regime, the number of so-called “national units” in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which are mostly or largely composed of representatives of the indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation, is steadily increasing. Currently, the Ukrainian Armed Forces include a Bashkir unit, the Bashkort Company, and the Turan Battalion, which unites representatives of Turkic peoples.

In addition, since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, three volunteer Chechen battalions, the Belarusian Kastus Kalinowski regiment and the Freedom of Russia Legion, a military unit formed of ethnic Russians and former Russian army soldiers who defected to Ukraine, have been fighting the Russian invaders in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. 

This year, in May, volunteers of the Freedom of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps announced the beginning of the “liberation” of Russia from the current government. The fighters entered Russian territory and attacked the FSB and Interior Ministry buildings in Belgorod. “Stay at home, do not resist and do not be afraid: we are not your enemies. Unlike Putin’s zombies, we do not touch civilians and do not use them for our own purposes,” the Russian military said at the time.

In addition, an ethnic conflict is currently brewing in the Russian army between Tuvans [a Turkic people living in Russia] and Russians, the National Resistance Center reported. Tuvan service members in the occupation army are increasingly clashing with Russians.

“Often, such disputes end in the use of cold steel or firearms with lethal consequences. The reasons for the enmity are quite banal it is enmity based on the traditional superiority of Russians to the peoples they enslaved and the struggle for the distribution of military equipment,” the NRC explained. 

Photo: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters; Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA-EFE

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