BY ZEESHAN JAVAID
A concise analysis in the light of the lethal adventures that have been performed by the incumbent president of Russia over the course of the past 22 years of his reign on the geographically biggest nation bordering with 15 other countries.
If our memories serve us correctly, it would seem that the Union of Socialist Soviet Russia (USSR) disintegrated into 15 separate republics in 1991 after suffering a loss of strength in the Afghan war. However, Chechnya was not one of the states that were proclaimed independent at that time.
Following the referendum, the people of Chechnya made the decision to continue being a member of the Russian Federation. But before long, Dzhokhar Musayevich Dudayev, a politician and a military leader, became the first President of the Chechen Republic and declared the country’s independence from Russia.
The whole population of Chechnya is comprised of between one and two percent ethnic Russians and between ninety-five and one hundred eighty-eight percent Muslims.
The majority of the world’s powers, including the Russian Federation, unequivocally oppose Chechnya’s bid for independence.
In 1991, Boris Yeltsin held the position of President of the Russian Federation. He went so far as to declare war on the Chechen Republic in 1994 just after the three years of his presidential portfolio.
Jihad was the term that Chechen youth and warlords used to refer to their conflict with the Russian Federation.
Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s ex-president, waged a full-scale war using the country’s complete military resources, but the Russian army ultimately lost, and Islamist Chechen militants claimed victory.
Heroes of the newly proclaimed Islamic Republic of Chechnya were Islamist soldiers and warlords, including renowned names such as Shamil Salmanovich Basayev, Zelimkhan, Aslan Maskhadov, and Ibn-e-Khatab.
During the period when Boris Yeltsin, the former president of the Russian Federation, initiated military action against Chechnya, Vladimir Putin held a position of local administrative significance inside the Saint Petersburg mayor’s office.
During that period, Putin had not yet achieved widespread recognition as a prominent political figure, and his name was mostly associated with a certain city. He did not hold a position of authority in the decision-making processes at the state, province, or federal level.
On July 25, 1998, Boris Yeltsin, the former president of Russia, designated Vladimir Putin as the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), which serves as the principal intelligence and security agency of the Russian Federation and is the successor to the KGB.
During the initial days of Putin’s tenure as the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Chechen government of Islamist clerics and warriors remained in existence.
Putin was closely monitoring the whole of the regional situation, namely the potential secession of a constituent unit of the Russian Federation.
Boris Yeltsin’s declining physical condition may be attributed to the issue of advancing age. He had developed a dependence on alcohol. When observing his internet recordings, it is evident that he often exhibited signs of instability throughout Russia’s transition into the contemporary age of the 21st century.
Nevertheless, the previous Russian President Yeltsin approached Vladimir Putin in close proximity.
During this period, Russian citizens reminisced about a glorious era of power, whereby global-level choices were contingent upon Russia’s assent or dissent.
However, during the period when Russia was experiencing significant political and economic turmoil after disintegration, it was characterized by widespread poverty and hunger across the country. The women of Russia took to the streets, expressing their discontent by striking pots as a form of protest. Due to a lack of sustenance, individuals were experiencing a dearth of food resources and the whole Russian country experienced a state of demoralization.
The tight affiliation between Yeltsin and Putin resulted in Putin being appointed as Deputy Prime Minister in 1999. Subsequently, upon parliamentary confirmation, Putin assumed the role of Prime Minister of the Russian Federation in the same year.
It was the first instance when Putin emerged into the stage, since before to this, he remained relatively unknown throughout the early stages of his professional journey. However, his name garnered recognition both inside Russia and worldwide, particularly at the beginning, of the second battle between Russia and Chechnya in August 1999.
The initiation of the second Russo-Chechen conflict was attributed to the incursion of Chechen Islamist fighters and warlords into Dagestan, with the intention of asserting control over the region that shares a border with Russia. This territory was notable for its population, which consisted of around 98 percent Muslims.
During a conflict in Dagestan, the Russian military undertook a comprehensive military campaign, with Prime Minister Putin closely overseeing the operations while his army soldiers engaged in combat in Chechnya.
During the Russian military’s initiation of a comprehensive assault in Chechnya against the government run by Islamist warlords, a simultaneous occurrence of bombings began in many prominent cities throughout Russia. The bomb explosions resulted in a significant loss of life, with over 300 individuals being killed and a large number sustaining injuries.
The Putin administration and law enforcement agencies had attributed these bomb explosions to Chechen Islamist militants. Through media campaigns, the government had sought to reassure the population that decisive stern action would be taken against those responsible for these acts of terrorism.
In the concluding months of 1999, the Russian populace began to see Vladimir Putin as the only leader who has the requisite qualities to protect the country at this pivotal period, after the tenure of Boris Yeltsin.
The Russian military launched an aggressive attack on Chechnya using all military resources of conventional war, disregarding distinctions between warlords and innocent civilians. The urban infrastructure of Grozny, the central district of Chechnya, suffered extensive destruction as a result of intense bombardment, which stands as an unparalleled instance of devastation on a global scale.
In the aftermath of extensive devastation, Russia emerged as the victor in the conflict with Chechnya. Subsequently, Akhmad Kadyrov, a leader supported by President Putin and being from a Muslim background, was appointed as the new President of Chechnya. Chechnya once again included into the Russian Federation. The current president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is the offspring of Akhmad Kadyrov.
During Akhmad Kadyrov’s tenure as president of Chechnya, he implemented measures to remove Islamist warlords and militants from the country. By the year 2009, all Chechen Islamist leaders and warlords who had been exiled and had fled their country were systematically eliminated one by one.
The Russian secret service conducted covert operations to identify and neutralize Chechen Islamist warriors and leaders, such as Shamil Salmanovich Basayev, Zelimkhan, Aslan Maskhadov, Ibn-e-Khatab, Ahmed Zakaev, Abdul Haleem, and others, irrespective of their geographical locations worldwide.
The Russian populace had the belief that Vladimir Putin was the true leader of their nation. In the year 2000, during the presidential elections, Putin emerged victorious with a substantial majority over the whole of the Russian Federation, garnering over 53 percent of the votes. One aspect that Putin comprehends is that in order to progress and achieve political success, it is imperative to restore the trust and confidence in the Russian military.
According to a book ‘Blowing-up Russia written by a former official of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Litvinenko, there is evidence to suggest that the allegations of a series of bomb blasts in Russia in 1999, which served as a pretext for initiating a military operation in Chechnya, were fabricated with the intention of facilitating Vladimir Putin’s rise to power. This alleged fabrication involved the participation of influential individuals within the FSB, including Putin himself. During the Russian military campaign in Chechnya, a significant number of casualties, exceeding one million, were reported, without differentiation made between Islamist hardliners and innocent civilians.
Alexander Litvinenko, a former member of the Federal Security Service (FSB), was subsequently escaped to London in exile, where he purportedly met his death after consuming poisoned tea.
London exhibited profound consternation at the slaying of Alexander inside their jurisdiction, resulting in a temporary breakdown of diplomatic ties between London and Moscow.
According to reports, evidence has emerged about the arrest of three FSB operatives who were apprehended while in the process of planting three explosive devices into a building situated in Ryazan city. The devices in question were identical to those used in the series of bombings that occurred 1999 in prominent cities of Russia. The Ryazan police were unaware of the identities of these individuals while they were arrested.
The individuals were apprehended during the act of surreptitiously placing explosive devices into the structure.
Subsequently, upon the realization by Russian law enforcement authorities that the individuals in question were agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the police opted to release them. In order to preempt any public backlash, it was officially asserted that the individuals in question were, in fact, agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB) who were undergoing training in the techniques of bomb defusal.
Another significant aspect of this narrative was to the mysterious deaths of all those engaged in the investigation of this bombing incidents, including lawyers, law enforcement officials etc. For instance, Yuri Shchekochikhin, former Gosduma Deputy, Sergei Yushenkov, former Russian politician, Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent journalist and human rights activist, Alexander Litvinenko, a former secret service official, and many other individuals of significance were involved directly or indirectly in the investigation of the serial bombing event that occurred in Russia in 1999.
The inquiry is asked over the absence of open trials and the non-appearance of the accused individuals before the court, if indeed the allegations of serial bombing occurrences in Russia involving Chechen warlords or Islamist militants were accurate. It is evident that several persons of Chechen origin were apprehended and subjected to clandestine trials, while the whole of the Chechen Islamic leadership and other individuals connected to the inquiry met their demise under enigmatic circumstances.
Following the Chechen conflict, Russia, under the leadership of President Putin, undertook a military campaign against Georgia, resulting in the seizure of some territories such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This action was intended to bolster the morale of the Russian population and reinforce the perception that Russia had the capability and inclination to reclaim disputed regions by military power.
In the year 2014, a mutiny was initiated in the region of Kremia. During the conflict in Syria, President Putin provided extensive military assistance to his close associate and buddy, Bashar-al-Assad. It has been observed that Russia intervened in Syria purportedly to suppress the rebellion against Bashar-al-Assad.
However, there are reports suggesting that Russia used this opportunity to conduct trials of over 200 advanced weaponry systems, including fighter planes and missiles. Subsequently, Russia now embarked on a significant military endeavor in Ukraine.
It is noteworthy that the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine is the first instance of a comprehensive military campaign initiated by Russia in Ukraine under the leadership of President Putin in the last 22 years. Undoubtedly, the Russian military is encountering significant opposition in the Ukrainian war because to the evident division within the corridors of power.
Throughout Vladimir Putin’s 22-year tenure as the leader of Russia, his presidency has been characterized by a series of military endeavors. These endeavors appear to have been undertaken with the intention of projecting power and instilling a sense of confidence among the Russian populace regarding the safeguarding of national sovereignty.
In contrast, China, another formidable nation, has pursued a different approach by engaging opponents through diplomatic and economic means, rather than resorting to military adventures. The present ongoing crisis and assertiveness shown by influential nations like as Russia, the United States, China, and European Union member states have the potential to precipitate another global catastrophe akin to the Second World War.
The genuine leader is characterized by their ability to guide their nation and exert global influence by peaceful methods, even in instances when they may have used armed force resulting in the loss of innocent lives.
(Zeeshan Javaid is US based Pakistani journalist. He writes on issues related to foreign affairs, cross border conflicts, terrorism and extremism)