Last Saturday, rebels in Ingushetia attacked a column of heavily armed Russian interior ministry soldiers and killed at least three of them, injuring three times as many. Opposition sources claimed Russian officials were lying about the number of fatalities, and claimed up to 50 soldiers actually having fallen.
Then this past Tuesday, rebels in Dagestan attacked a squadron of police officers and killed at least five of them, injuring twice as many.
These events show clearly that the Kremlin’s desperation over its manifest policy failure in the region, leading to a massive revival of separatist activity and the KGB regime’s assasination last month of a leading opposition leader in Ingushetia, was fully justified.
And they could not be coming at a worse moment.
The powerbase of the KGB regime rests on just two pillars: stability of the economy, as measured by the value of the Russian ruble, and stability in the Caucasus region, as measured by the absence of military activity by rebel groups. Today, both of those pillars are collapsing simultaneously, removing the last vestige of legitimacy that the Kremlin thugs possessed.
Worst of all, by invading Georgia in support of the Ossetian rebels, Russia has forfeited even the illusion of possessing the moral high ground on Chechnya and Ingushetia. How can Russia now argue it has the right to use force against those who no longer wish to be part of Russia when it has denied Georgia the right to use such force? It cannot. And the anti-Russian rebels in the Caucasus region are no fools. They know this, and with the loss of the moral high ground comes the loss of the propaganda war. With that lost, the rebels are emboldened to strike out at will, and they are clearly doing so.
In hindsight, Russia’s attack on Georgia will be viewed as one of the most spectacular mistakes in the history of Russian government, and in a land as benighted and backwards as Russia that is saying quite a lot.