The world is still in shock after the discovery of countless civilian bodies in Butch, following the withdrawal of the Russian army. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the United Nations on Tuesday, 5 April to act “immediately” Against Russia regarding “war crimes” committed in Ukraine. In the vicinity of the head of state, some also invoke a “zatchistka” – The word literally means “cleansing” – a term that has inspired fear since the wars in Chechnya. This new armed conflict, however, seems to have awakened the old demons in the Russian army. It remains to be seen whether these violations are part of a military plan.
>> The Buch massacre: Is it possible to talk about “genocide”, as Volodymyr Zelensky says?
this is “cleaning” It consists in the systematic elimination of every man of age to bear a weapon, house after house, with the entire population handed over to various infractions. One of the most famous of these cases dates back to February 2000, when about sixty civilians were found dead in Novi Aldi, on the outskirts of Grozny (Chechnya). A few days after capturing the city, the Russian armed forces relentlessly pursued the rebel fighters. Women, children and the elderly were also “Down in cold blood, with automatic weapons, at close range”concluded a field survey conducted by the NGO Human Rights Watch (in English). Not to mention the fires, looting and rape.
“Several reports were subsequently alerted to this cleaning strategy”explains Carol Grimaud Potter, Professor of political geography specializing in Russia. “TEach inhabitant is accused of terrorism and was arrested before being interrogated in the detention centers. Some of them were tortured to obtain confessions. Russia had already denounced “A provocation aimed at discrediting the work of the federal forces.” Vladimir Putin has already underestimated the opposing forces.
The siege of Kyiv failed, but the surrounding towns slipped into chaos. Gostomel, Bucha, Erben, Mutizin .. The Russian withdrawal reveals once again the extent of the violence committed against the population. These images of the bodies next to Rafael Petit brought back horror. The war emergency doctor has done about thirty missions in Syria. In 2013 in Aleppo, the Syrian army killed more than 200 handcuffed people before throwing them into the river. For the doctor without a doubt “It was really a question of terrorizing the population as an example.”
On the ground, the Russian military set up headquarters near Damascus in 2015, leaving the dirty work of the Wagner Group and Chechen aides behind. In Syria, at least, it is not directly involved in abuses against civilians. It would still be necessary to know the rules of engagement that it had established for the units under its command. In other words: Are these abuses being committed in Syria a matter? “From a modus operandi, or is it the result of a laissez-faire approach?” asks Rafael Petit. “At the very least, this means that the Russian General Staff has not set limits, and that they can be held responsible.”
Frankly, Admiral Michel Olhagray offered the same analysis in the Ukrainian case:
“The way Russians act is usually in the direction of what they know how to do. If these violations were committed in Ukraine, it was because there was no order to the contrary.”Admiral Michael Olhagray
It remains to be seen whether these acts were isolated or deliberate. “We knew that Putin’s invasion plans included summary executions by his military and intelligence services.”And the just commented Richard Moore, Director of British Intelligence, without going into further details.
It is difficult to determine this point, because the rules of engagement of the Russian army are, of course, secret. So some experts prefer to be careful at this point. “The first premise is that the unit behaved badly”so analyzes General François Chauvanci, in an interview with franceinfo. “Have you been beaten by the Ukrainian army and armed civilians? Did you make the population pay for what you have suffered?” Therefore, one of the investigators’ roles will be to identify the different units involved in the same sector. certainly, “If several units commit massacres in the same city, it will be necessary to deduce the systematic nature.”.
Some of Butch’s survivors interviewed by the BBC (in Russian) It provoked variable behaviors according to Russian soldiers – from a certain form of sympathy to the most brutal brutality – which presupposes non-uniform behaviors according to units or within the same unit. Ukraine in particular accuses the 64th Motorized Rifle Brigade of committing violations, and all its soldiers have been placed on the list of “war criminals”. Ukrainian military intelligence says this brigade will be sent to another front, after a temporary withdrawal to Belarus on April 4. According to this source, Moscow will have to send them to certain death, and banish any witnesses to the atrocities.
British researcher Jack Watling disagrees (in English) Moreover a “The Russian tradition of war against the parties” – Suppression of the population by holding them collectively responsible for acts of resistance – and a “The West’s Counterinsurgency Doctrine” – which consists in separating the rebels (and punishing them, sometimes with extortion) from the rest of the population. In other words:
“The population is being punished for supporting the Ukrainian army,” he added.Carol Grimode Potter, professor of geopolitics, and a specialist in Russia
“I think it is deeply rooted in the culture of the Russian military.”Carol Grimaud Potter, who willingly takes on this historical plot, agrees. “The Red Army was originally created to suppress anti-Bolshevik fighters. In this long tradition, a civilian can be an enemy or a threat.” And if the “zatchistka” did not have the value of military doctrine, then the researcher nevertheless recalls that the recent exercises of the Russian army were directed towards urban conflicts and guerrilla warfare. It also states that the NGO Memorial, which extensively documented crimes committed in Chechnya, was disbanded shortly before this invasion. “So the script is being written.”
General François Chauvanci questions the training of soldiers, because the law of war takes precedence in all circumstances – including orders from the hierarchy. “In Western militaries, disciplinary regulations dictate disobeying orders when it is illegal – shooting civilians, for example. I’m not sure this training is being provided entirely to Russian soldiers.” It would also be useful, according to him, to know the nature of the representations of the Ukrainian population made They put the heads of the Russian soldiers. Which can determine their behavior in the field. Especially since the Moscow narrative, specifically, has developed since the beginning of the war.
At the beginning of the war, according to the Kremlin version, the Russian troops had to liberate the population by expelling them. “nationalists” and the “Nazis” Authority. Ukrainians have been seen “Sort of like Russians have strange ideas about their identity and ridiculous language”And the Abstract Russian sociologist Grigory Yudin. corn “This concept failed when the Ukrainians began to bravely resist”This anti-war researcher continues. Rooted in its ideological representations, the Kremlin drew its own conclusions and decreed that “Ukrainians [étaient] badly affected by Nazism. Since it is about facing absolute evil, Grigoryi Ioudin concludes, the logic “purity” replace the original logic “release”.
Moreover, the Russian media made its shift towards the new Doxa. “Okronazism poses a much greater threat to the world and to Russia than Hitler’s version of German Nazism., dares Russian polemicist Timofey Sergetsev – very little known – in an article published by RIA Novosti. Propaganda Vladimir Solovyov also beats the drum on his daily program on Al-Rosiya 1 channel. According to him: “Nothing prevents us from turning the whole world to ashes” And the “To negotiate with the Nazis, you have to put your foot on their throats.”.
This is the meaning of the Kremlin It stimulates the leadership and minds of the army, paving the way for an attempt to ‘de-Ukrain’ Carol Grimaud Potter adds. “What happened in Bucha is not an isolated act and I am very afraid of what we will find out in Mariupol or Kharkiv.” But at the same time, Admiral Michel Olhagray notes, “You don’t find as many corpses on the streets of Podorianka as in Bucha. The Russian army responded and I think they paid attention to ‘cleaning’, which had less of an impact on international opinions.”