Russia’s war on Ukraine has endured for almost nine months now, but the war got up close and personal to impartial Russian citizens like never before when Putin announced on September 22nd that military reservists would be partially mobilized. On October 13th, Dutch news site NOS wrote that separatism within the Republic of Bashkortostan is increasing rapidly due to rising tensions between this republic and the Russian Federation itself, as Bashkir partisans have risen to disrupt conscription efforts within their region.
“The time of demonstrations and protest marches are over,” the Bashkir resistance posted through an anonymous Telegram channel. “Putin and his allies can now expect bullets and Molotov cocktails.”
Alongside this message, instructions on how to procure Molotov cocktails and a guide to their partisan resistance were posted. The following days were filled with local attacks on Russian conscription centers and important regional infrastructure.
More than just resisting the war, Paul A. Goble, a specialist on Eurasian ethnic and religious questions, notes in an article for his blog Windows on Eurasia that the Committee of Bashkir Resistance intends to resist Putin’s regime altogether; Bashkortostan’s independence is the body’s sole declared goal. The Ukrainian news source Euromaiden Press republished the article on October 19th under the headline “Bashkirs launch armed underground movement against Russia’s war and for national independence.”
This brewing separatist atmosphere has recently started to churn faster. Like other regions distant from Moscow, Bashkortostan has taken a heavy toll from regional conscription. In order to retain public order in the Federation’s heartland, the Kremlin chooses to conscript from more distant regions, regions Russia considers less important. Bashkortostan is not a very populous region, but it has the fourth-highest number of civilian casualties in the war on Ukraine.
The Kremlin, which is famously wrathful against separatists within the Russian Federation, had a bold reply for the conscription center attacks. “In the second World War there was a simple solution to this kind of [sabotage] – execution,” Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said. It seems that Russia is more than willing to use any amount of force necessary to put down the separatist uprising if it could harm the nation’s war efforts in Ukraine.
Both parties have shown clear intentions of using violence and sabotage to pursue their goals. If the separatist movement escalates further, it could lead to much bloodshed. However, Russia will need more than just armed police to make these Bashkir partisans back down. If the Kremlin is forced to pull troops away from the front to suppress the separatists, it may be put in a difficult position and therefore find itself unable to deal with the partisans effectively.
It is too early to assume that direct conflict between the Bashkir partisans and the Russian armed forces will break out. Neither side has suffered any actual casualties yet, and we can hope that this remains to be the case. However, this partisan movement does show us that Russian citizens’ war exhaustion is at an all-time high, to the point that resistance has firmed past protests and into active bloc-building. Hopefully the increasing domestic tension will pressure the Kremlin to stop its war on Ukraine.
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