Ukraine conflict and Russian Muslim leaders’ support to the Kremlin

The leaders of the Russian Muslim organisations gathered in Vladikavkaz to express their support to the Russian Federation (Credits: Kavpolit.ru)

Since the Ukraine conflict has attracted foreign fighters and the Russian Armed Forces have among their soldiers Muslim believers, the leaders of the Russian Muslim organisations released a statement in support of the Kremlin.

After 22 days, the Ukraine conflict is still going on. According to Ukrainian official sources, at least 21 people died following a Russian bombing near Kharkiv. The Ukrainian Armed Forces estimated that since the beginning of the conflict, Russia lost around 14 thousand troops, 86 planes, 72 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), 108 helicopters, two boats, 444 tanks, 864 vehicles, 201 artillery pieces, 60 fuel tanks, 11 unmanned aerial vehicles, 1,435 armoured personnel carriers, 43 anti-aircraft warfare.[1]

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, in total, since the beginning of the special military operation, 181 Ukrainian aircraft and helicopters, 172 unmanned aerial vehicles, 170 anti-aircraft missile systems, 1379 tanks and other armoured combat vehicles, 133 multiple launch rocket systems, 514 field artillery guns and mortars, as well as 1168 units of special military vehicles.[2]

The negotiations between Russia and Ukraine

If in Ukraine troops are still fighting, there have been registered efforts to facilitate peace dialogue between Moscow and Kyiv in the international arena. The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin might have a face-to-face meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.[3]

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, quoted by Tass, the very fact that the negotiations are continuing “is a sign of progress”. However, it is impossible to say whether there is progress or not without revealing the essence of the negotiations, and they are talks behind closed doors”,” she said.

The appeal of leaders of Muslim religious organisations

The Coordinating Center of Muslims of the North Caucasus, the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, with the assistance of the Fund for Support of Islamic Culture, Science and Education, organised a conference attended by more than 150 representatives of federal and regional executive authorities, the expert community, as well as heads of religious associations, public organisations and employees of educational institutions from 25 subjects of the Russian Federation. Leaders of Muslim religious organisations in Russia have adopted an appeal for their support of the leadership of Russia. The statement confirms that the Russian military operation in Ukraine to force the nationalists to peace is a forced defensive and preventive measure to protect Russia and all its citizens from the real threat of the use of nuclear and biological weapons by NATO countries and the collective West.[4]

The All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference “Spiritual Service and Social Mission of Religious Organisations in the Context of the Formation of an All-Russian Civil Identiy” adopted the appeal of the leaders of Muslim religious organisations.

“There have been many difficult times in the centuries-old history of Russia. But no matter what difficulties we face, our people have always successfully overcome them. Today’s events confirm that the strength of our country is precisely in its multinational people, in the unity of people and their unparalleled love for the Motherland,” the appeal says.

The leaders of Muslim organisations emphasise that they pay tribute to the courageous compatriots who put people’s interests above their own in difficult times.

Conclusion

Islam is the nation’s second most widely professed religion in the Russian Federation. According to official data and a nationwide survey, the number of Muslims in Russia is approximately 20 million people. In the capital, Moscow, there are four mosques, while in the entire country, the number of mosques is around 8 thousand. Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia is a Muslim country, and traditional Islam is essential to the country’s spiritual life.

The support of the Russian Muslim leaders might be interpreted as a sign of strength and internal cohesion in the Russian Federation. Indeed, the conference and the appeal adopted by the Russian Muslim leaders were also organised to contrast the propaganda ideated to convince the Russian Muslims to abandon the battle in Ukraine among the ranks of the Russian troops or change their side and support the fight of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Furthermore, the conference can be seen as a direct answer to the jihadi militants’ propaganda spread on the internet, which accused the Chechens and other Russian Muslim soldiers of fighting with the wrong side inviting them to become part of a broader battle promoted by terrorist organisations such as Imarat Kavkaz (Caucasus Emirate).[5]

Sources

[1] NGS.ru (2022) Конфликт на Украине. Главное о происходящем в России и мире 16 и 17 марта. Link: https://ngs.ru/text/politics/2022/03/16/70509536/

[2] Vedemosti (2022) Минобороны опубликовало кадры уничтожения военной техники ВСУ возле Чернигова. Link: https://www.vedomosti.ru/politics/news/2022/03/16/913691-minoboroni-kadri-unichtozheniya-tehniki

[3] Siranush Ghazanchyan (2022) Turkey ‘happy to host’ any Zelensky and Putin meeting – Cavusoglu, Public Radio of Armenia. Link: https://en.armradio.am/2022/03/17/turkey-happy-to-host-any-zelensky-and-putin-meeting-cavusoglu/

[4] Bashinform (2022) В Москве прошла всероссийская конференция, посвященная 150-летию Ризаитдина Фахретдина. Link: https://www.bashinform.ru/news/politics/2009-01-29/v-moskve-proshla-vserossiyskaya-konferentsiya-posvyaschennaya-150-letiyu-rizaitdina-fahretdina-2075644; Duxonvnije Upravlenije Musul’man Respubliki Severnaja Ossetija-Alanija (2022) Во Владикавказе состоялась Всероссийская научно-практическая конференция «Духовное служение и социальная миссия религиозных организаций в контексте формирования общероссийской гражданской идентичности». Link: http://islamosetia.ru/2022/03/18/rol-musulman-v-formirovanii-obshherossijskoj-grazhdanskoj-identichnosti/

[5] Giuliano Bifolchi (2022) Ukraine conflict, foreign fighters and European security, SpecialEurasia. Link: https://www.specialeurasia.com/2022/02/28/ukraine-foreign-fighters/; Giuliano Bifolchi (2022) Ukraine conflict, kadyrovtsy and Chechnya, Russia Insight Volume 15 Issue 4, SpecialEurasia. Link: https://www.specialeurasia.com/2022/02/25/ukraine-kadyrovtsy-chechnya/


Author: Giuliano Bifolchi. Do not hesitate to Contact Us for further analyses or reports about Islam and Muslim societies in Russia.

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