Friday, October 21, 2005

The Caucasian Front

I'm not sure anyone else didn't spot this; but the name the rebels who invaded Nalchik used is significant. They called themselves the Caucasian Front. The original Caucasian Front was the Soviet army of Marshal Timoshenko, driven back from Rostov-on-Don to the mountains in the spring of 1942, who fought it out there to keep von Kleist's 1st Panzer Army from the oilfields of the Caucasus and the roads south to the Middle East.

When you think that there is really nothing else that no-one can disagree with about Russian history in the modern era, and how much and how rightly the Great Patriotic War makes up a chunk of Russianness...that ought to be ideologically frightening. That way, nothing on Putin's (and our) side is Russian. And the Russians are now the Nazis. Robert Fisk describes in his new memoir, The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East, how he travelled from Kabul to Kandahar in 1981 in a civilian bus and saw Soviet soldiers from Tajikistan who had torn off the red stars of their uniforms. The full significance took longer to sink in.

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