As Vladimir Putin steps up his military pressure on the Ukrainian border, there are signs that some members of Russia’s officer corps oppose his actions.
The most eyebrow-raising of these dissents is an open letter by retired Col. Gen. Leonid Ivashov posted on the website of the All-Russian Officers’ Assembly, which he chairs. In it, he rejects Putin’s claim that NATO poses a threat to Russia’s vital interests, warns that invading Ukraine “will forever make Russians and Ukrainians mortal enemies,” and calls on Putin to step down. He concludes, “We, Russia’s officers, demand that the President of the Russian Federation reject the criminal policy of provoking a war in which Russia would find itself alone against the united forces of the West.”
Ivashov is no pacifist. Alexander Golts, a longtime reporter for the Russian military newspaper Red Star, now an editor at Daily Journal, described him in a recent column as “deeply rooted in the Russian establishment.” As an active-duty officer in the 1990s (his rank corresponds to the U.S. Army’s three-star general), Ivashov led the attempt to block NATO troops from entering Kosovo. A hardcore Russian nationalist, he was in charge of Moscow’s military relations with the former Soviet republics in the years following the breakup of the USSR. [Continue reading…]