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Friday, April 12, 2024

Where Colonies End, Why the War in Ukraine Is the Last Colonial War

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The Russian war against Ukraine goes on. For the past year, the Russians have

demonstrated that they are committed to killing everyone living in Ukraine. Muslims, Jews,

Christians, no matter. As a colonial country, the Russians only aim to suppress as many people

as possible and gain as many territories as possible. As we saw in 2022, there are no human

values for them, only a drive for destruction in the absence of the ability to create.

Russians deliberately devastate cultural and religious places of people living in Ukraine.

On March 12, the mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Roxolana (Hurrem

Sultan) in Mariupol was shelled. On June 15, Russian troops destroyed the mosque and Muslim

centre “Bismillah” in Sievierodonetsk. The same was done to mosques in Kostyantynivka,

Donetsk region. These and many other holy places burned to the ground under Russian

occupation in the past couple of months. It is a serious violation of human rights and

international law. The intentional destruction of cultural heritage sites is considered a war crime

by the International Criminal Court, and is condemned by the international community as a

whole. Ukraine is a home to diverse ethnic and religious groups who live under the same

humanistic values. The way Russians destroy this spiritual diversity of Ukraine by demolishing

cultural and holy places is a sign of their ethical attitude towards non-Christians. There is a long

history of that and many examples.

Russia has been known as a colonial empire that expanded its territory, particularly in

the 18th and 19th centuries. It gained vast territories in Siberia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and

the Far East through military conquest and colonization. Many of the lands they occupied were

inhabited by the Muslims. For example, the Muslims comprised a large part of the population in

Siberia, mostly through the presence of Tatars. There was also a large Muslim population

across the Volga–Ural and in the northern Caucasian regions. In the past, Russia also colonized

whole independent Muslim states such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,

Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The tactic was always the same — suppression, ethnic and

religious cleansing, appropriation and further elimination.

In the war against Ukraine, Russia has mobilized the vast majority of the Muslim

population from Siberia, Central Asia, and the Far East. Ethnic groups of Buryats, Komi, Tajiks

have been sent to the battlefields in the East, South, and North of Ukraine. While ethnic

Russians, especially those from better-off regions such as Moscow and St. Petersburg,

overwhelmingly manage to avoid duty at the front. Russia’s peripheral subjects — Buryats,

Dagestanis, Tuvans, Komi who are mostly Muslims — are Putin’s cannon fodder. Buryats are

the second-highest number of soldiers killed in Ukraine since the start of the full-scale war —

just after Dagestan, another conquest of the Russian Empire. As Russian casualties in Ukraine

reach the hundreds of thousands, these inequities have become glaringly obvious. People in the

periphery are becoming increasingly restless about sending their sons, brothers, and husbands

to die in a war fought for the cause of Russia.

In Ukraine, the Muslim population inhabits mostly the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by

Russia in 2014, and the South-East of the country. What is happening there now is the same

what Russia (then the USSR) did during the WWII. In 1944, Crimean Tatars were forcibly

deported from the Crimean Peninsula as a result of state-organized and forcible action, ordered

by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Deportation began on 18 May 1944 in all Crimean inhabited

localities. More than 230,000 people were forcibly deported from their homes to the distant

places in Russia. After the fall of the USSR, only over 200,000 Crimean Tatars returned to their

homeland. The remaining Muslim population of the Crimean Peninsula was again suppressed

under Russian occupation in 2014. Many were arrested based on their ethnicity and religion.

Russians regard Muslims and especially Tatars as “unreliable elements” of society which need

to be eliminated completely.

Apart from this, when first seizing the east of Ukraine in 2014, Russian forces shot

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) on purpose. Several Russians were found guilty by the

International Court of murdering all 298 people, including Malaysians, onboard flight MH17 by

shooting it down. This case clearly shows that Russian colonial wars actually affect everyone. If

Russia is not stopped right now, the world can expect only the worst.

The Russian colonial practices have expanded to practically the whole world, and there

are even greater chances of further expansion. Muslim countries in the Middle East are

especially vulnerable in this regard. Prosperous and with rich resources — whether natural,

technical, or intellectual — such countries may fall into Russia’s “sphere of influence” which will

mean colonization and further suppression.

If Ukraine wins, it will mean the end of the last empire, the end of colonial rule, and the

end of unlawful territorial conquests. In this way, a massive cycle of total decolonization that

started at the beginning of the 20th century will be completed. Empires want to survive but must

be destroyed.

In this respect, all previous colonies should unite their efforts in this fight against the pure

evil, Russia. There is a story of one man which can illustrate this appeal. A native of Palestine,

Islam Dababseh came to Ukraine at the age of 17. Here he graduated from the university and

became a doctor, got married, had children, acquired citizenship, opened his own business —

founded a business group that manages two private clinics. Dababseh calls Ukraine his second

homeland and admits that he is grateful to this country for the fact that he managed to realize

himself here. That is why, after the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation on the territory

of Ukraine, Professor Islam joined the territorial defence in the Kyiv region. It is only one

example, but in the Ukrainian Armed Forces there are separate Muslim regiments. They came

to fight for the independence of Ukraine because if Russia won’t be defeated now, it will

colonize more territories and suppress more people.

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