News You Really Need To See: “Islamic Units Help Ukraine Battle Rebels”

“Islamic Units Help Ukraine Battle Rebels”

The New York Times, July 8, 2015, p.A1

“Wearing camouflage, with a bushy salt-and-pepper beard flowing over his chest and a bowie knife sheathed prominently in his belt, the man cut a fearsome figure in the nearly empty restaurant. … Even for Ukrainians hardened by more than a year of war here against Russian-backed separatists, the appearance of Islamic combatants, mostly Chechens, in towns near the front lines comes as something of a surprise — and for many of the Ukrainians, a welcome one.  ‘We like to fight the Russians,’ said the Chechen, who refused to give his real name.  ‘We always fight the Russians.’  He commands one of three volunteer Islamic battalions out of about 30 volunteer units in total fighting now in eastern Ukraine.  The Islamic battalions are deployed to the hottest zones, which is why the Chechen was here. … The Chechen commands the Sheikh Mansur group, named for an 18th-century Chechen resistance figure.  It is subordinate to the nationalist Right Sector, a Ukrainian militia.  Neither the Sheikh Mansur group nor Right Sector is incorporated into the formal police or military, and the Ukrainian authorities decline to say how many Chechens are fighting in eastern Ukraine.  They are all unpaid. … The Chechens, by all accounts, are valuable soldiers.  Ukrainian commanders lionize their skills as scouts and snipers, saying they slip into no-man’s land to patrol and skirmish. … In Ukraine, the Chechens’ calls of ‘Allahu akbar,’ or ‘God is great,’ are said to strike fear in the hearts of the Russians.”

Quickie analysis:  These Chechens share next to nothing with the rest of Ukraine in terms of values and ultimate goals.  “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” in its most literal form.

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