The Chechen Gambit: Will a Ukrainian Kadyrov Rise?
The Globalist--Nationalist marriage of convenience shatters as President Zelensky sacks Commander-in-Chief Zaluzhny. Will Zaluzhny lead a rebel faction and become Putin's Kadyrov in Ukraine?
In Ukraine, as the pages turn in Russia’s favour, Western commentators ruminate over an ever-widening range of endgames. Long-gone are the ideas of a sure-fire Ukrainian victory followed by a dismemberment of Russia. As the flows of Western arms and wealth turn to a trickle, the front lines inch westward and optimism gives way to grim defiance. Self-soothing Western scenarios focus on the inevitability of stalemates, frozen conflicts and minor territorial concessions.
Recently, a more extreme endgame has animated the Western narrative. Visions of a savage Red Army rampaging through Europe—raping and pillaging everything in sight—have been deployed to huckster more weapons for Ukraine. This new narrative line is puzzling. Many accounts appear of increasingly bare Western armouries, with some countries announcing only weapons supplies sufficient for a few days of fighting against Russia. How does sending the last remaining arms to certain destruction in Ukraine make sense if soon the Russian hordes will be sweeping terror across Europe?
Somewhere between the two extremes of Russia being dismembered by righteous Ukrainians or Europe being overrun by demonic Russians, exist more realistic, albeit less dramatic, endgames. Throughout history, most European wars have ended by armistice, where the side about to be vanquished sues (makes a request) for peace to his superior opponent. Motivated by a desire to save lives and territory or just to keep their positions in power—the losing ruling elite comes to the realization that continuing the war is futile. As the battles rage, they open discussions with the subjugator, hoping to strike a deal to end the carnage. The soon-to-be victor presents his terms, and if the vanquished agree, an armistice is reached and the war ends. However, if the losing side refuses the proposed terms, the war continues. The process may be repeated but depending on the flow of the war, the terms may become much more severe as time marches forward.
A more even-handed process is a peace negotiation, where both sides want to save face by not unilaterally seeking peace, so instead they submit to a third party mediating the discussions. Currently Qatar is hosting active peace talks between Hamas and Israel. The fact that such negotiations are occurring demonstrates that Israel’s war aim of eradicating Hamas is unachievable. Hamas would like to cement this victory and has an interest in making concessions such as releasing hostages and prisoners of war. Israel needs an operational pause but wants to avoid any definitive end of the conflict—which would result in an unambiguous defeat for the Jewish State.
An armistice represents a black and white division between war and peace. A second path towards truce, which often occurs in cases of irregular warfare, is the gentle fading away of a conflict. As the clash moves from darker to lighter shades of grey, the hostilities become progressively impalpable and peace is finally achieved as the hostile insurgents fade away or are slowly brought to heel.
In the fade-away scenario, the ideal situation for a great power is to hand the battle over to trusted local proxies or puppets. The US attempted this in Vietnam but the strategy failed. Israel has no allies in Palestine, and so not even milquetoast Fatah could play this role. The idea is for the greater power to fragment the belligerent ruling class into a peace party and a war party. The greater power can attempt to co-opt the peace-seekers and promise to install them into power in the losing nation’s post-war political order. If things go as planned, the greater power withdraws his troops, as his soon-to-be puppets take over most of the fighting, seeking to suppress their local enemies.
Indeed, this is the formula a newly enthroned Vladimir Putin took in the Second Chechen War (1999-2009?). After Russia had been defeated in the first war, Putin convinced the anti-Russian but moderate Islamist Akhmad Kadyrov and his Kadyrovtsy paramilitary group to switch sides. Russia armed them and pledged substantial post-war autonomy and in return the Kadyrovsy fought for Russia against the more radical Wahhabi-inspired Islamist guerrillas in Chechnya. After several years of struggle, the Kadyrovtsy militia were able to gain the upper hand.
In 2004, Akhmad Kadyrov was killed in a terrorist bombing. Today his son Ramzan Kadyrov is the much celebrated local warlord in Chechnya. The war itself long ago faded from memory. In return for absolute devotion to Putin, Kadyrov’s Chechen militia are idealized and given huge privileges. Many Chechen fighters have fought in Russia’s war in Ukraine and Russia took extra care to highlight their efforts in propaganda product.
When facing difficulties in new projects, professionals often fall back on what worked for them in the past. As the Ukraine war enters a phase of Russian dominance, with Ukraine fighting heroically but suffering from both shell and manpower depletion, will Russia seek to fragment an already fragile Ukrainian ruling class and then nurture future puppets from one of these factions?
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A Premonition of Defeat: Strife in Kiev
As January came to a close, the long-smouldering antagonism between Ukraine’s Jewish-globalist President Vladimir Zelensky and the Ukrainian-nationalist Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny erupted into a fiery fracas. Persistent rumours of Zaluzhny’s impending dismissal filled Telegram, X and the Ukrainian media. Days of crossed-signals, hesitation and stalemate ensued in this internal Ukrainian ruling class power struggle. America’s neo-con-in-chief Victoria Nuland was sent to Kiev to sort out the dispute but she failed to appear with Zelensky afterwards. The Asia Times speculates that Nuland was sent to prevent a military coup d'état against Zelensky:
When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky decided to fire armed forces commander Valerii Zaluzhny, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who is directly responsible for US and NATO Ukraine policy, rushed to Kiev.
There are no photo ops with Nuland and Zelensky. She briefed the press standing outside in front of a hastily assembled table with some microphones on it.
Why did Nuland run to Kiev? Almost certainly the White House told her to get herself over there immediately in case things went south in Kiev. There was apparently real worry that Zaluzhny might turn the army around and use it to go after Zelensky.
Other reports paint a picture of rebellion against Zelensky. The Western media raises the possibility that Zaluzhny is conspiring with former Ukrainian President and nationalist Petro Poroshenko, and mayor of Kiev and former boxer Vitali Klitschko. From the New York Times:
As Ukraine steps up efforts to press for more military support for its conflict with Russia, political frictions have emerged at a critical moment for the country.
President Volodymyr Zelensky and the commander of Ukrainian forces, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, have been at odds. Vitali Klitschko, the popular mayor of Kyiv, has suggested that Mr. Zelensky made mistakes in failing to prepare for the war. And the opposition leader, Petro O. Poroshenko, was on Friday blocked by the authorities from leaving for a trip abroad that he said was aimed at lobbying for more military support.
The political frictions in Ukraine come as the country enters its second winter of full-scale war with Russia and the public braces for more attacks on cities and infrastructure, while its troops face grinding fighting on three fronts.
As the military campaign has run into difficulties, criticism has started to rise within Ukraine’s political leadership. General Zaluzhny, the commander of Ukrainian forces, wrote in a paper recently that the war was in a stalemate and would stay that way unless Ukraine received increased and more technologically sophisticated military equipment. Mr. Zelensky swiftly chastised the general and denied that the war was in a stalemate.
On February 8th, President Zelensly finally confirmed the sacking of Zaluzhny. His replacement is General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who has been Zaluzhny’s rival for more than a year. Syrskyi led the dogged defense of Bakhmut, where Ukraine suffered enormous manpower losses. Zaluzhny had lobbied to withdraw from the city in order to save Ukrainian fighting potential. This advice was ignored by President Zelensky.
There may be troubled times ahead for Ukrainian unity with Syrskyi in charge. He is nicknamed “General 200” (200 is Soviet code / slang for Killed in Action) due to his propensity for frontal assaults and getting his troops slaughtered. Born near Moscow and having studied at the prestigious Soviet Higher Military Command School in Moscow, Syrskyi is widely despised by Ukrainian commentators. He speaks very little Ukrainian and has a reputation as a rigid and old-fashioned attrition commander.
Prior to Zaluzhny’s sacking, there had been persistent reports/rumours that the majority of the military, including many in the general staff, would rebel. In normal times a President has the right and duty to fire his military chief. But Zelensky’s performance as a rainmaker of Western weapons and wealth has stalled recently. Increasing numbers of Ukrainians—particularly among the hardcore nationalist factions—see the cut-off in arms and finance as a Western stab in the back. To many, Zelensky is a cipher for the West and it is he who must be punished. Syrskyi’s appointment will only intensify this view as the body bags fill at an even more appalling rate.
Lavender Divorce in Ukraine
As tense as things are now, at the outbreak of the Ukrainian war, this marriage of convenience between the hyper-globalist Jewish Zelensky and ultra-nationalist Ukrainian Zaluzhny was mutually beneficial. In the years following the Western-backed coup d’etat in February of 2014, the Western media had published bushels of accusatory articles hyping the neo-Nazi menace in Ukraine. What better mask or “beard” for the ultra-nationalists than the Jewish Zelensky? How many times since the outbreak of the war has even the possibility of Ukraine being infested with the Nazi ideology been quashed due to the presence of their Jewish President?
In effect, Ukrainian nationalists cynically wore a Jewish “beard” to hide their true character. In more traditional times, a prominent gay celebrity would “date” or even “marry” a person of the opposite sex to hide his or her homosexuality. Such a relationship was called a “lavender marriage.” The cultural pendulum has swung so far the other way that now straight celebrities are accused of “queerbaiting” where they pretend to be gay or bisexual for increased clout.
Zelensky benefited from this lavender marriage through the power he accumulated, the wealth he skimmed off, and the global accolades he received. Keeping the endgame always in sight, and aware of the danger lurking from the nationalists, he worked to cement his future by injecting globalist corporate conglomerates, such as BlackRock, JPMorgan and McKinsey to act as a post-war counterweight to Ukraine’s radical right. The tentacles of globalist power, which “must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere,” sought to worm their way into every crevice of Ukrainian life.
Zaluzhny and his radical right militias benefited from their Jewish “beard” by getting access to Western wealth, weapons, and most importantly, rampant Western media idealization of the blood and soil Ukrainian nationalist cause.
The Ukrainian globalist—nationalist lavender marriage of convenience was based on a fundamental division of labour. The globalists would provide Western wealth and arms while the nationalists would serve up Ukrainian blood and meat. With Ukrainian casualties (both dead and seriously wounded) estimated at 450,000—no one can doubt that the nationalists kept their end of this bargain. The globalists in the West have failed deplorably in supplying arms and wealth—and their sanctions were a total failure.
So why is Zelensky able to fire Zaluzhny? From the nationalist point it’s the globalists who dropped the ball and who need to be fired. The nationalists provided Ukrainian meat while carefully rationing their own risk. It is Zelensky and his globalist handlers in the West who have stabbed Ukraine’s national dreams in the back.
After Nuland’s visit, Zaluzhny not only posed with a far-right militants in front of a portrait of Ukrainian national hero and notorious Jew-killer Stephen Bandera; he also “gang-signalled” a Waffen SS divisional shield emblem. In return, mirroring globalist rhetoric straight outta Davos, Zelensky declared a “reset” where many of the leadership class will be liquidated from power in the hope that Ukraine will change its losing ways.
As the military situation deteriorates rapidly in the Donbass, a premonition of defeat hangs in the air and a civil war between globalists and Ukrainian nationalists may break out in Kiev.
There have been rumours that Zaluzhny was holding in reserve elite nationalist units as a praetorian guard for post-war control of Ukraine. Naturally, Zelensky has a strong incentive to throw these neo-Nazi militias into suicidal meat assaults such as in Bakhmut and more recently into their tenuous bridgehead near Krynky, on the left bank of the Dnipro river. With General Syrskyi now in charge, whose Russian roots would lead him to detest the nationalist militias, a major Zelensky priority will be to march these radical right troops from reserve in the rear to fight on the front lines.
Indeed when announcing his great Ukrainian reset, Zelensky hinted darkly that more sacrifice was needed:
President Zelensky also highlighted that the UAF, with nearly one million personnel, most of whom "have not felt the front lines," requires significant reform.
According to reports on Ukrainian Telegram channels:
Our source in the General Staff said that Syrsky began to transfer reserves to Avdiivka in order to break through the encirclement of the city and fulfill his promise to Zelensky. The new Commander-in-Chief, unlike Zaluzhny, does not oppose the President’s decisions and will hold Avdiivka as a new symbol of resistance.
Zaluzhny: Ukrainian National Realism
Already in late 2022, Zaluzhny was publicly expressing doubts about the West upholding its end of the Ukrainian blood bargain. He openly threaten to turn off the spigot of Ukrainian raw meat if the weapons did not begin to flow in much larger batches. In an interview with The Economist, the magazine-of-record of globalist orthodoxy, Zaluzhny openly threatened to stop the war if the West did not boost arms supplies:
I know that I can beat this enemy. But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 IFVs, 500 Howitzers. Then, I think it is completely realistic to get to the lines of February 23rd. But I can’t do it with two brigades. I get what I get, but it is less than what I need. It is not yet time to appeal to Ukrainian soldiers in the way that Mannerheim appealed to Finnish soldiers. We can and should take a lot more territory.
Zaluzhny was referring to Field Marshal Baron Mannerheim, the Finnish military genius who led Finnish resistance in the Winter War Soviet invasion in late 1939. The Finns fought bravely but were ultimately defeated by the much larger Soviet Army. Instead of fighting until the bitter end, once Soviet forces had broken through the main Finnish lines in the south, and with their path to Helsinki wide open, Mannerheim demanded his civilian superiors sue for peace. A few weeks later the Soviets agreed to what were actually very favourable terms. It was then time for Mannerheim to break the news to his soldiers of the Finnish government’s capitulation to Stalin:
Soldiers of the glorious Finnish Army: Peace has been concluded between our country and the Soviet Union, an exacting peace which has ceded to Russia nearly every battlefield on which you have shed your blood on behalf of everything we hold dear and sacred.
Our fate is hard, now that we are compelled to give up to an alien race, a race with a philosophy and moral values different from ours, land which for centuries we have cultivated in sweat and labor. Yet we must put our shoulders to the wheel, in order that we may prepare on the soil left to us a haven for those rendered homeless, and an improved livelihood for all, and, as before, we must be ready to defend our diminished Fatherland with the same resolution and the same fire with which we defended our original Fatherland.
The next year, Nazi Germany pulled an about-face on the gullible Stalin, in part due to the Red Army’s terrible performance during the Winter War. Hitler, fresh off his stunning victory in France, launched Operation Barbarossa in the summer of 1941, thinking it would be a cakewalk. Finland allied herself with Nazi Germany and took part in the genocidal Siege of Leningrad. Finland eventually lost to Stalin a second time and was turned into a sort of protectorate during the Cold War, where it did not enjoy full sovereignty.
And so the Finnish model had been an example for Zaluzhny to follow. If he was threatening to sue for peace already in 2022, admittedly to provoke Western governments to cough up more arms and cash, he was probably pushing for it even harder now that the arms flows have stopped. Zaluzhny surely realized time is running out on Ukraine, which explains why he was replaced by the more compliant Syrskyi.
The situation in Ukraine is similar to that of Germany in 1944. Many German generals wanted to end the war before total defeat and they plotted to remove Hitler but failed. Ukrainian nationalists such as Zaluzhny realize they are not going to win and may prefer to make a deal with Russia now with an eye towards keeping their privileged positions in the future.
Both Zelensky and Syrskyi seem inspired by the Hitlerian logic of never retreating, as evidenced by the current Ukrainian debacle in Avdeevka and the bloody defense of Bakhmut. Zelensky has passed a law banning any negotiations with Russia and rigidly holds to the maximalist goal of restoring Ukraine’s 1991 borders and forcing a defeated Russia to pay massive amounts of reparations. Such an unflinching public position is understandable, since war by its very nature is a binary, black and white endeavour. Not by accident, Zelensky’s pursuit of Messianic moral purity means Zaluzhny’s far-right militants will eventually get massacred.
To negotiate peace, to maintain his radical nationalist power base, and to one day rule Ukraine, Zaluzhny must pull off a successful “General’s Plot” by removing the globalists from power in Kiev.
Will Ukraine’s Gang of Four play the Chechen Gambit?
Oleksiy Arestovych is an Ukrainian intelligence officer with a gift for constructing compelling narratives for use in propaganda. For the first year of the war he worked in association with Zelensky’s office but was fired for publicly admitting that many civilian casualties during Russian missile strikes were caused by errant Ukrainian air defense missiles and not a result of evil Russian targeting. He is currently serving a form of exile in the US but regularly comments on the war. It is clear that Arestovych now regrets that Ukraine is fighting for the declining West against the rising power of Russia based on its alliance with the BRICS multipolar horde.
Do you know what are most important tragedy is? In my opinion, in the conflict between globalists and realists, we made a bet not on those. We shed blood to be in the camp of the losing side.
In that interview Arestovych contrasts German chancellor Olaf Schulz’ reception in Qatar, where he was forced to wait on the tarmac for 30 minutes before a reception party could be mustered, to the pomp and ceremony Putin was greeted with by the Qatari leadership.
In an interview published in Unherd, Arestovych explains the strategic moves Putin made to put Russia in a position to win the war in Ukraine:
You have to look at what Mr. Putin is doing now. There are four principle strategic decisions he has taken over the past year and a half which have given him superiority over the Ukrainian position.
First of all, he managed to change the frame of this war from a Russian-Ukrainian war into a war between the global South and the global West. We can see how Brics organisations have multiplied since and Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran and other countries are coming together into a so-called “anti-Western bloc”. This changes the frame and gives them diplomatic and political abilities they didn’t have at the beginning of the war, when the whole world condemned this invasion.
Second, Putin managed to avoid a lot of the sanctions because of this change in frame, which has, thirdly, enabled him to multiply the production of his military industry. We used to speak about how Russia would have insufficient means to produce the cruise missiles which they use to strike Ukraine, but they have since managed to produce them. They have a system of avoiding sanctions which works very well.
The fourth strategic decision was to motivate the Russian people to get involved in the war. Fourteen thousand Russian recruits arrive every month to the recruiting centres and Putin now doesn’t need conscription. This is completely different from the Ukrainian situation. We are trying to recruit half a million personnel, but we face serious problems in terms of motivation.
The Ukrainian Gang of Four: Zaluzhny, Poroshneko, Klitschko and Arestovych may have their differences but are united in a lust for power. If Zelensky maintains his grip on Ukraine, the globalist forces, which in their eyes represent defeat and decay, will further entrench themselves. The Gang of Four need to make a move. But Zaluzhny’s firing shows they currently lack sufficient power. They need additional support to rise to the level needed to dominate and displace Zelensky.
This is where the Chechen Gambit comes into play. Zaluzhny, now free from his command, together with his clique could open a back channel to Russia, offering to play the role of Kadyrov, only this time in Ukraine. What Putin desires above all else is a return of Ukraine to the Russian World, run by puppets granted plenty of autonomy but in the end loyal to Mother Russia.
One immediate objection is one of the main goals of Russia’s Special Military Operation is the denazification of Ukraine. The same was true in Chechnya, where the goal was de-Islamization. Kadyrov found a middle zone, where he attacked radical Wahhabism but promoted a more benign form of Islam. Zaluzhny would have to perform a similar manoeuvre, embracing a wider form of Slavic nationalism with Ukrainian characteristics while at the same time attacking the effete and corrupt nature of the West, which after all stabbed Ukrainian heroes in the back by cutting off arms shipments. The reward for this rather simple ideological manoeuvre would be power in Ukraine.
The problem is the fade-away or Chechen gambit works best during an insurgency or period of irregular warfare strife.
Prior to General Syrskyi’s appointment, the primary candidate to replace Zaluzhny had been Kyrylo Budanov, currently serving as the Chief of Ukrainian Defence Intelligence. A Budanov appointment would have signified a move away from Ukrainian conventional / attrition fighting and towards insurgency / irregular warfare. Given the West's ammunition and Ukraine's manpower shortages, unconventional warfare is now a much more appropriate approach. But this would mean abandoning the current front lines and tempting the Russian hordes to envelope the entire nation. Clearly Zelensky and the West are not ready to take such a radical step—yet.
NATO spent much time and effort during the Cold War developing clandestine “stay-behind” doctrines of sabotage and partisan warfare in the event of a Soviet occupation of Europe. One infamous example is Operation Gladio in Italy, which features strongly in many alternative political views of the Cold War. Eventually when the West is forced to switched to insurgency warfare, at that point it would not be much of a stretch for Russia to prefer a Ukrainianization of the war and having Zaluzhny and friends smoke out the remaining globalists nestled in Ukraine, just as Chechens managed the fading years of conflict in Chechnya.
Today Ramzan Kadyrov comes off as a strong Chechen patriot. Very few people think he betrayed Chechnya by siding with Russia. The elder Kadyriv used sarcasm to explain his choice, “there are a million Chechens, and 150 million Russians. If every Chechen kills 150 Russians, we will win.” In Ukraine today the odds are not as bad, every Ukrainian only needs to kill five Russian to assure victory. So far the kill rates seem to be the opposite ratio, which opens the way to power hungry players to tempt the Chechen Gambit.
We are entering a final period of conventional war in Ukraine. As Russian troops advance, Zelensky’s goal will be to kill off as many of his far-right soldiers and has appointed General 200 to accomplish this feat. Zaluzhny and his Gang of Four have to find a way to prevent this slaughter of their own praetorian guard, all while moderating their radical ideology. Their endgame prize is autocratic power and privileges in a post-war Ukraine firmly ensconced in filial submission to the Russian and multipolar world.