Who is fighting for Russia? Part 1. Russians

Much of misunderstanding regarding the composition of forces fighting for Russia in Ukraine results from perceiving Russia as a monolith

We can classify Russian forces into three main categories:

1. Russians
2. Chechens
3. Donbass🧵
Russian army is an authority-based bureaucratic organisation run through formal procedures. Cadres are interchangeable and don't matter much, while procedures and formal rank mean everything. Interchangeability of cadres makes army easier to control and minimises political risks
Chechen forces are run by the informal power of Kadyrov through his personal network. On paper it's merely a collection of Russian regulars from the various branches of army, National Guard, FSB etc. But in a power-based structure these badges mean nothing as it is run informally
Donbass armies were originally power-based and run by pro-Russian warlords through their personal networks. However, later Russians assassinated those warlords one by one, establishing formal authority-based rule that serves as a model which may be later scaled up all over Russia
How is the Russian regular army composed? The key element is draft. Theoretically every young man between 18-27 y.o. has to serve in the army for a year. In practice however, everyone who can, dodges. So the quotas are filled by the most disadvantaged who didn't or couldn't dodge
Some argue that the Russian army is not that different in this regard from the US army, which also heavily recruits from the poor classes. I disagree. In the US recruitment is voluntary. In Russia it's compulsory and dodgeable which makes it effectively the blood tax on the poor
Consider the following. In the US people go to the army to pay for the college. In Russia it's the other way around: people go to the college to avoid the army. You can fund it either by winning a government-funded place (бюджет) or simply by paying tuition fees out of the pocket
Draft absolutely distorts the education market. You won't be drafted while you study. So you have to get into uni to avoid the draft. That makes much of university industry in Russia the draft dodging industry. See this advertisement of a BS uni: "отсрочка" is the main benefit
The distorting effect of draft on the education is reflected in memes. Consider this. Expectations: filled zachotka (=you passed all exams). Reality: you face a military recruiter. If u r kicked out of uni, u r drafted. Which implies that uni is a safe haven to avoid the draft
It's well-reflected in the art like a movie "Elena". Elena is married to an old rich man. Her 17 y.o. grandson will be drafted, unless he gets into the college. She asks her husband to pay for the tuition, he refuses. So she kills him. It's a very understandable plot for Russians
Draft plays the key role in the Russian army recruitment. Yes, now it is largely composed of paid "contractors" (контрактники). But their decision to enlist should be viewed in the light of the draft. Let's consider some loopholes created by the federal law 28.03.1998 N 53-ФЗ
Theoretically decision to sign the contract is totally free. You don't even have to serve a compulsory (unpaid) year to sign it. In practice recruiters are giving draftees a choice. You must either serve a year as a conscript for free or sign a contract for longer and get paid
Furthermore, those already serving their compulsory year as conscripts can make a decision to transfer to the ranks of contractors. It's supposed to be free. In practice though, draftees are pretty much defenceless and can be tricked, threatened or simply commanded to sign it
Status of contractors differs from the status of conscripts. Contractors are professional soldiers and sending them to foreign operations is legal (sending conscripts is not). And yet, almost all contractors were initially selected through the social filter of draft
Almost all Siloviki structures require or strongly prefer candidates who have served as conscripts. Thus social filter of draft plays a huge role in comprising the National Guard, police and other agencies. Draft makes sure they're recruited from the poor and uneducated
In theory it sounds kinda fair. Serve your compulsory year as a conscript and get an entrance ticket to Siloviki careers. And yet, that creates a problem. Army is for peasants, while some Siloviki careers especially in state security lure golden kids who won't serve with peasants
We have a contradiction. Elite jobs in FSB, FSO, etc must be filled by golden kids who won't serve in army. And yet, this jobs require to have served in the army. That's why studying in FSB and FSO academies is counted as the military service. See: https://alt.academ.msk.rsnet.ru 
This loophole with counting studying in the elite state security academies as the compulsory military service reflects the class structure of Russia. While theoretically state ideology glorifies military service, in practice everyone knows it's for peasants. Army isn't classy
Another branch of the Russian military heavily involved in Ukraine is Wagner mercenary company. While supposed to be "private", Wagner was created by Putin's henchman Prigozhin to fight for Russian interests in Syria, Africa and now in Ukraine
Wagner has controversial record. For example in Syria they posted video of killing a local who tried to desert from the Assad's army. They killed him with hammer, cut of his head with a knife and his hands with a shovel and burnt what remained.

Sign "For VDV and intelligence"
Wagner apparently killed at least one more Syrian and posed with his cut off head but they didn't record execution and possible tortures as in previous case. You can find details and graphics in these two Novaya Gazeta materials:


This execution isn't some kind of excess. It's heavily used in Wagner propaganda, merchandise, memes. Despite Novaya Gazeta identifying a number of murderers, Russian authorities refused to indict them with any crime https://novayagazeta.ru/articles/2022/01/19/im-eti-golovniaki-ni-k-chemu-18
It's difficult to say how heavily is Wagner involved in actual operations in Ukraine (there seems to be a lot of misinformation on that), but they're actively recruiting people for a "military expedition to a neighbouring country" (боевой поход по ближнему зарубежью"
Anyway, most of the army regulars, National guard and Wagner fighting in Ukraine first had to go through the social filter of draft and then choose (or accept) military, cop or mercenary career which are unpopular among those with *any* form of capital be it economic or cultural
That doesn't mean that everyone who signed a contract is a victim. Most signed it voluntarily, for financial reasons. Notice that volunteers in Russian army are called contractors. Which implies they enlisted for money rather than because of the patriotism. They're mercenaries
Still, even those who signed the contract voluntarily usually had to go through the social filter of draft and then view military service as lucrative. Which means they had no better options, coming from the bottom of socioeconomic ladder and having accumulated no form of capital
That explains heavy geographic and ethnic asymmetry in casualties. Mediazona aggregated data on 1744 casualties among the Russian regulars in Ukraine and found a clear negative correlation between a median salary in the region and the number of casualties. It's the poor who fight
Consider this map with casualties by each Russian region. Two most heavily affected ones are Dagestan and Buryatia: both being poor ethnic backcountry. Moscow and St Petersburg have almost no casualties despite being officially 12% of Russian population (much more in reality)
Majority of the Russian soldiers KIA are young. Some of them must be contractors who signed a contract during their compulsory service or straight after it. Some are conscripts who were sent to Ukraine illegally. You can find this study here https://zona.media/article/2022/04/25/bodycount
This is a map with casualties in Ukraine on 100 000 of male population by region, based on Mediazona figures. We see that the most affected regions lie in two ethnic clusters: South Siberia and North Caucasus. There are only two truly Russian regions here: Pskov & Kostroma. Why?
Apart from being poor and ethnic Russian, Pskov and Kostroma have one common denominator. They are both home to huge VDV bases. And it was the VDV airborne who had disproportionate losses in Ukraine. They attacked airports expecting no resistance like in 1968 and were massacred
South Siberia and especially Buryatia is the region who lost the most people per capita in Ukraine. As you see, already published casualties in Ukraine (red) increased mortality among Buryatian males quite substantially. The burden of war on this Mongol Buddhist republic is huge
You see a lama blessing a Buryat soldier in Ukraine. According to activists from the Free Buryatia, Buryats comprise 2,8% of total Russian casualties despite being just 0,3% of population. The war in Ukraine is turning out to be a national catastrophe for this Siberian minority
See Buryats commenting on their disproportionate casualties. A woman speculates that "elite troops" from Moscow and St Petersburg are kept in reserve while "provincials" (notice chuckling) are sent forward. That basically means that "provincials" serve as the cannon fodder
Indeed, that could explain a strange asymmetry with huge cities as St Petersburg and especially Moscow having so few casualties. It's not only that they are underrepresented in the army. It's probably also that higher-ups don't send them to Ukraine fearing unrests in two capitals
Moscow and St Petersburg are crucial centres of power, thus discontent in these cities must be avoided at any cost. Meanwhile, poor rural population from remote regions is disposable. Discontent among remote bumpkins doesn't present political problem in such a centralised country
There may be another consideration here. Russia is a quickly depopulating country, but it is depopulating unevenly. Fertility among minorities, especially in North Caucasus and Siberia is much higher than among ethnic Russians which may change the demographic balance in Russia
TRIZ teaches us to solve a bunch of problems together so they annihilate each other rather than solving them one by one. What if Kremlin mobilises minorities for Z-war to solve two problems at once: destroying Ukraine and maintaining the current demographic balance in Russia?
It's difficult to say how much discontent there is in Buryatia. But anecdotally some Buryats in social media support vandalising Z-monuments. Expressing this discontent in Russia is risky though: you can be jailed for 15 years for distributing fake news about Z-war
Minorities' participation in Z-war is ironic regarding that it's a Russian ethnonationalist war. Z-ideology is an expression of Russian ethnonationalism which is deeply hostile to minorities. Russian victory manifesting Russian ethnonationalist triumph is against their interests
While most of Z-forces are unmotivated mercenaries and conscripts, their activist core is far-right. Consider this interview with a de-Nazifier broadcasted (=lowkey endorsed) by the Russia Today:

"All children are equal to us if they're born white-skinned and on the Slavic land"
While far-right involvement in Ukrainian army is hugely exagerrated, participation of Nazis in Russian forces is almost ignored. Consider this post where Z-fighters celebrate birthday of their "long-gone comrade" who "taught them how to fight for their historic land" on April 20
The core of Russian irredentists who went to fight in Ukraine back in 2014 was recruited from the far right like the Sputnik and Pogrom fanbase who would assert their racial superiority over Ukrainians by comparing them with "lower races" such as Blacks, Arabs or Native Americans
Consider this poster which makes a parallel between the British Defence of Rorke’s Drift during the Anglo-Zulu War and the Russian defence of Slavyansk during the Donbass war. Russians are portrayed as the British and Ukrainians as Zulu. Notice Ukrainian flag on a warrior's cheek
This poster compares the Crimean city of Sevastopol with Texas and "Ukrainian tribes" with Native Americans who "should be shot at sight". From perspective of the Russian far-right, they are the truly White European people, while the whiteness of Ukrainians is very questionable
Russian far-rights who heavily participated in manufacturing the conflict in Ukraine tend to believe in their racial superiority over Ukrainians who have too many steppe admixtures, making them less Slavic and less white https://vk.com/@czartv-himera-evropy
Russia is a White supremacist country. It's not that some random extremists like Dmitry Rogozin share racist ideas. It's that White vs Asian dichotomy with a perceived superiority of the former over the latter, is the axiom of the Russian public discourse
First, white supremacy serves as a justification of Russian ethnic supremacy over minorities or neighbouring nations such as Ukrainians who are supposedly not white enough. Second, it legitimises the rule of Russian metropoly over the racially and culturally inferior periphery
Russian iconography traditionally demonises anything "Asiatic" including Asian facial features. Consider how a fictional magic antagonist Nightingale the Robber is portrayed in Soviet (1978) & Russian cartoon (2009). Asian features help the children to understand he's a villain
While legends of Nightingale the Robber are of medieval origin, tradition of portraying him as an Asian is relatively new. Consider this folk art (lubok) of 1876. Notice both the facial features of the Nightingale (white) and the dressing of Russian medieval hero Ilya Muromets
Russian nationalists criticise modern Russia for not being White enough and allowing lower races up. Consider how they portrayed mayor of Moscow Sobyanin: Chuckcha, Japanese, Mongol. The lack of consistency is telling. His facial features make him an Asiatic savage: that's enough
How could Sobyanin raise to power then? Well, by totally assimilating. He bears a Russian name and a patronymic which is very important. He doesn't speak (publicly) on a minority language. He's diligently showing up on church services. He embraced the Russian cultural memes
Russia being White supremacist doesn't mean it's really obsessed with the purity of blood. Rejecting your cultural memes and embracing Russian ones is usually enough, especially if you are white-passing. In fact much of Russian cultural policy is about extirpating the wrong memes
Consider the Putin's crackdown on minorities' cultural infrastructure. In July 2017 Putin declared: “It is unacceptable to force a man to learn a language that is not his own". That was a signal for a crackdown on compulsory courses of minority languages in ethnic republics
In September 2017, Russia’s government started to enforce Putin’s instructions and push regional governments into abolishing language courses. Most didn't put much of a fight. Only Tatarstan government pretended they didn't understand what Putin meant and didn't abolish anything
Kremlin resorted to force. In October prosecutors started investigating local schools to determine whether they had retained compulsory courses on Tatar and to pressure school directors to abolish them. Eventually, all directors abided except for Pavel Shmakov - an ethnic Russian
In the end Tatarstan surrendered. On November 29, 2017 a prosecutor Nafikov (= a man of Moscow) paid a visit to the regional parliament and a speaker suggested “to listen to the prosecutor’s information and accept the bill without opening discussion and without asking questions”
The prosecutor Nafikov presented a new education bill which would make Tatarstan curricula align with the new instructions from the Moscow Ministry for Education, abolishing the compulsory courses of a local language. The bill, of course, passed unanimously.
MPs openly admitted they passed the bill under pressure. When a journalist asked the head of the parliament’s committee for education, Rasil Valeev, whether he was content with the bill he just voted for, Valeev replied "Of course not!" adding that he "intends this issue again”
The entire story of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict becomes more understandable if we consider that from the perspective of Moscow Ukrainians are just a rebellious minority who won't come into their senses and abandon their inferior Nazi cultural memes do non-Nazi Russian ones
Z-war is a Russian ethnonational war waged for transforming the old Church Slavonic sacred community (= Rus) into a Russian ethnostate. Ethnic periphery has no interest in conquering Ukraine or Belarus to restore "the Holy Rus"
Despite Z-war being waged in Russian ethnonational interests, the ethnic periphery is heavily overrepresented on Ukrainian battlefields. They have less resources to dodge a draft, they are easier bribed by the army wages and they're probably more disposable in the eyes of Kremlin
Being overrepresented on the battlefields, minorities fight against their own interests. If Russia wins, they'll lose the last remnants of their autonomy (I'll discuss Klishas-Krasheninnikov law later) and earn only the right for the full assimilation
From the Russian imperial perspective, every ethic republic is just another Ukraine. Russian public opinion considers Ukraine as a rebellious province, but that works both ways. Every province which demands some sort of autonomy becomes a Ukraine and gonna share the same fate
The potential regime change and a "liberal" takeover won't change anything. In fact, it might make the situation worse. Despite being actively whitewashed by the Western media Russian liberals fundamentally share the same ideology as Putin and are just as racist and imperialist
Since the rule of metropoly over colonies is largely based on its supposed moral & cultural superiority, Russian liberals will shift responsibility for Putinism and Z-war on minorities. Consider London-based journalist Kashin: supporting Putin is "sucking an Armeno-Chechen dick"
Kashin is not some sort of extremist. He is a part of the Russian liberal establishment and published his articles in Kommersant, Republic, Sputnik and Pogrom, New York Times and so on. As I told, Western media will go to the great length to whitewash Russian "liberal opposition"
Heavy participation of periphery in the Z-war will allow Russian liberals to shift all the blame on minorities:

"Only three [of participators in Bucha massacre] are from Moscow, so they aren't Muscovites, but just common nonhumans (нелюди) from the toiletless-villages"
Russian ethnic periphery is trapped between the Putin and the "liberal opposition", both of whom view periphery as nonhumans to be punished, disciplined and exploited. It has no interest in either side winning. It has an interest in dismantlement of the Russian imperial system
Dismantlement of the Russian empire will secure a peace by undermining any further attempts of the imperial restoration. Unable to recruit the cannon fodder in periphery (as it is doing it now), Russia won't have manpower to act as the "menace of the world" as it is used to
As a general rule, the ethic periphery is hugely overrepresented on the Ukrainian battlefields and on the casualty lists. And yet, we have a strange anomaly - Chechnya. While a neighbouring Dagestan has 125 confirmed casualties, the neighbouring Chechnya has only 3. How come?
To answer this question, we'll need to discuss the place of Chechnya within the Russian empire and the specific role of an MP Adam Delimkhanov who's been heavily present on the videos from Ukraine. I'm planning to cover it in the Part 2 of this cycle. End of 🧵
If you want to support my work, I'll be grateful for your donations either in fiat or in crypto. You could support me by signing to my Patreon or donating to my accounts:

Cashapp: kamilkazani
Zelle: Kamil Galeev +12027306766 https://www.patreon.com/kamilkazani922 
ETH (DAI, etc) 0xA9FA4454cC3EC0Ff521926BB5F8D4389bA0e665a
BTC bc1q5dlnrfw2034x5spl42ultv87hdg4xty8j26ye5
XMR 45VxYSxCFtBJyXD77YtMhBVoo3ZzskqLfK6jNHVBd6P4NVQJUcTu3FWbL3doQkLtsVLn3s7nocY1URyhyjkqvdX86fzThvL
You can follow @kamilkazani.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: