Russia is heading towards a “loud” civil war, as ethnic tensions over Putin’s mobilisation grow, a Wagner affiliated Telegram channel has claimed. The comment was made following mass shootings at a Belgorod military base last week, which left at least 11 soldiers dead. The incident occurred after a confrontation between a Russian commander and mobilised men from Muslim regions escalated.
The drafted soldiers had complained to the officer that the conflict in Ukraine was not their war to fight.
The commander replied that they were fighting a “holy war” and called Allah a “coward”, whereupon a fight broke out between Muslim and non-Muslim servicemen.
Eyewitness said three Tajik soldiers then opened fire, killing the officer as well as contract and mobilised soldiers.
The shootings sparked a furious backlash in Russia’s informational space, highlighting the deep ethnic tensions and racial divisions in Russian society, which some commentators predicted would sooner or later boil over into open civil war.
The Telegram channel, Grey Zone, which is believed to be a mouthpiece for the Wagner militia, wrote : “The problem of replacing the Russian population will sooner or later lead to a ‘quiet’ and then ‘loud’ civil war.
“Moreover, the beneficiaries of this substitution can evade responsibility, because the people’s anger will be directed at ‘foreigners.’ Convenient, right?”
Hostility towards ethnic minorities was further stoked by the chairman of the political party A Just Russia.
Sergey Mironov attacked the Kremlin’s migration policy and implied non-Russians were not fit to serve in the army.
He blamed military commissars for allowing people who pose a threat to Russian security into the army and accused recruitment officials of keeping their doors wide open for people from Central Asia.
The politician called for a moratorium on granting Russian citizenship to Tajik nationals and demanded immigration reform.
He wrote: “I know many cases when patriotic compatriots asked to be sent to the front line as volunteers, and the military registration and enlistment offices brushed then aside, as they were engaged in a ‘plan’ for mobilisation.
“But it turns out that the gates to the army are wide open for visitors from Central Asia.
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“Only mobilisation is not an organisational recruitment, and military operations are not construction.
“No matter what they promised to migrants who agreed to volunteer, the military commissars knew that these people were not ready to sacrifice themselves for a country that was foreign to them, which means that anything could be expected from them, but not to fulfil their military duty.
“However, for officials in uniform, the main thing is to report, show the figure, and what happens next is none of their business. It shouldn’t be like that!”
He added: “Now, newly minted citizens of the Russian Federation are entering the army, who, when receiving a Russian passport, clearly did not think about military duty.
“The consequences can be the most tragic. This is another good reason to radically reconsider the state’s approach to migration.”
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Russia is home to 193 ethnic groups nationwide, although 81 percent of the population in the country identify themselves as ethnic Russians.
The Kremlin has actively encouraged migration from the Soviet Union’s former republics to help provide workers for the economy – particularly in areas like construction.
Ethnic minorities have borne the brunt of the Kremlin’s mobilisation plans throughout the war.
The Institute for the Study of War has reported on the prevalence of volunteer battalions formed in non-Russian ethnic minority communities, many of which suffered substantial losses upon deployment to Ukraine.
According to ISW analysts, this trend continued following Putin’s announcement of partial mobilisation, after which authorities continued to deliberately target minority communities to fulfil mobilisation orders.