Caught between the anvil of the local mafia gangs under Maskhalov and Bassev, who are wrangling over who controls the country, and the Russian military, often forced to join up behind one or the other, nearly two million people are hostages and victims of this new imperialist war. The bombing goes on, devastating entire villages. Yeltsin, a blood-stained buffoon who is a worthy successor to Stalin, has been using one of the classic Stalinist recipes for mass repression: you encircle an area and massacre everyone in it.
Contrary to the previous Chechen war, the government this time has ‘prepared’ the Russian population with a repulsive propaganda barrage about the Chechen ‘terrorists’ (Chechen=terrorist and vice versa). All the Chechens are thus held responsible for the terrorist bombings and thus for their own misfortune. With the gross lies being spewed up by Yeltsin’s ‘western-style, democratic government’, the current regime shows its direct continuity with the methods of Stalinist terror.
Russian imperialism caught up in its own decomposition
Once again then, horror stalks the Caucasus, victim of the desperate plight of the Russian bourgeoisie. Let’s not forget the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of deaths, Chechen and Russian, claimed during the fighting between Moscow and Doudaev between January 1995 and the end of 1996. The unleashing of the first Chechen war enabled Moscow to impose its authority over a whole series of republics of the former USSR which had an urge towards independence. Chechen served as an example in a particularly taut situation in which Russia was trying to prevent the explosion of its empire through the creation of the CIS.
The Caucasus region, in which the combat between Armenia and Azerbaijan had blown up even before the collapse of the eastern bloc, has long been a powder keg. It came to the fore when Georgia quit the CIS and then was torn by war against Abkhazia ann by war against Abkhazia and Ossetia which were still under the control of Moscow. Now Russian imperialism is again caught in a spiral of mass destruction. There is a lot at stake for the Russian government. First of all, it has to keep control of an ever-deteriorating political situation at home, given the accelerating decomposition of the central power, the incapacity of the Yeltsin clique to maintain a credible image, and the growth of rivalries between mafia bosses, of whom Yeltsin is a primary representative. In one sense, especially with the presidential elections coming up, the Chechen operation is a way of diverting attention from these problems and giving the regime a strong and decisive image.
But Chechnya is itself of considerable importance. As in 1995 it is vital for Moscow to issue a warning to all the republics who are thinking of breaking away from Moscow, since as Russia gets weaker, the push towards secession gets stronger. And this time around, Moscow has drawn lessons from its 1995 defeat: for the moment it is only trying to control part of the country, the region around Grozny, with the long term aim of installing a puppet government.
Thus Russia has to keep hold of a region which is strategically vital. Chechnya is at the centre of a line, still not fully controlled by the Runot fully controlled by the Russian bourgeoisie, which goes from the Black Sea to the Caspian, and which is a defensive frontier and above all one of the few traditional means of access to the Mediterranean and the southern seas. To allow an independent Chechnya to carry out its own foreign policy would open a major hole in Russia’s line of defences.
But another aspect of the Chechen war is the need for Russia to keep control over oil reserves and the Caucasian pipeline which goes through Chechnya. This is of increasing importance to Moscow and what remains of its economy and its army, above all from the strategic-military point of view. A loss of control of its own oil reserves would be a threat to Russia’s independence and would open the door wide to the machinations of the great powers, especially the USA which is out to block the growing influence of Germany in the region.
The complicity of the great powers
It is certain that the big western powers, in particular the European ones, would like to get their fingers in the Caucasian pie and can’t help but savour the difficulties of Russian imperialism in that area. During the wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan at the beginning of the 90s, we could already see Germany, hand in hand y see Germany, hand in hand with Turkey, trying to discretely pull strings in order to strengthen its position in the region. However, these same great powers do not have an interest in the total collapse of the CIS. This is why, despite the hypocritical declarations of their politicians, the advanced bourgeoisies do not have the immediate intention of getting mixed up in what Clinton already called in 1995 "an internal matter for Russia". On his recent return from a ‘mediating’ mission in Moscow, the European commissioner for foreign affairs declared laconically that Russia was not at all "ready" to accept any foreign intervention, even diplomatic.
What seems to ‘shock’ the leaders of the ‘civilised’ world is the Russians’ methods. Not the mass bombings, not all the brutal measures against the population - after all, they are still fresh from the butchery in Serbia and Kosovo - but the fact that it can all be seen so easily. Since the beginning of the war Clinton has advised Yeltsin to be less obvious about it. The French bourgeoisie, through its minister of the interior has been whispering in the Russians’ ears that they should "pay attention to the way things are perceived". Meanwhile the flower of international bourgeois repression, the iourgeois repression, the interior and justice ministers of the G8, have been meeting in Moscow while the war rages to talk about the problem of international crime. They have had no problem with giving Russian intervention a legal gloss by adopting a resolution against "international terrorism" as demanded by Russia.
The cynicism of this class of gangsters knows no limits. They are the terrorists and the gangsters, and the planet runs red with the blood of the massacres they have perpetrated in the name of humanity and democracy and anti-terrorism. Whatever suits them in their flight into chaos and destruction, they will use. It’s not just Russia which is trying to shoot its way out of its decline, but the entire capitalist world.