The war in Ukraine started in Chechnya. It may seem like a provocation. Yet, this is the reality that the pages of this second volume reveal, entirely dedicated to the First Russo-Chechen War. The genesis, development and unfolding of this bloody conflict seem to be the draft of the script that the world has been witnessing in recent months between the Donbass and the Crimea.
Even then, as now, Russia invaded a free state, disguising the war it was waging behind the label of a “special operation.”
Even then, as now, the enemy of the Russian state had been labeled and demonized: if Zelensky and his government are called “Nazis” today, Dudayev and his ministers were then called “bandits”.
Even then, as today, convinced of their superiority, the military commands marched on the capital, claiming to bend a people to their will, as they had done several times in Soviet times. But even then, as now, they were forced to withdraw, only to unleash a bloody all-out war, the most devastating European war since 1945.
The First Russo-Chechen War was the first tragic product of Russian revanchism: the “zero point” of a parable that from Grozny leads to Kiev, passing through Georgia, Crimea, Belarus and Donbass. With one substantial difference: that the Russians lost that first war against Chechnya. Their imperial ambitions, resting on the worn foundations of a crumbling empire, ended up frustrated by the stubbornness of a nation immensely inferior in number and means, to that of Ukraine, which today defends its land from the war unleashed by Putin.
This story can teach those who have the patience to read it two important lessons: what happens when you indulge the ambitions of an empire, and how do you defeat it. If it is already too late to put the first into practice, we still have time for the second.
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