Ivan, when crime (does not) pay

(To Gino Lanzara)

Once upon a time there was the Russian Army; long considered the second best army in the world1, to the test of the facts the army finds itself affected by contradictions and paradoxes.

In Ukraine the unexpected continuation of the clashes highlighted the contrast between the refinement of the hybrid war of General Gerasimov and between inefficient means, a lack of logistics, an absent air force and soldiers still too young to die in such fierce clashes or to dig trenches in the contaminated land of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone2.

A blitzkrieg that was supposed to result in a quick triumph, got bogged down in the pools of tough, steel-like mud that sapped the initial Russian war violence.

The lack of coordination between aviation and ground departments, often far from the range of acceptable air cover, has amplified the vulnerability to attacks carried out by Ukrainians with Turkish drones and American anti-tank missiles. While the Russian communication strategy aims to maintain a constant tension that should affect both the conventional and asymmetrical course and nature of conflicts, a PowerIndex based on the demographic relationship between population and the number of military personnel, small on the European side and stronger on the Caucasian side.

This is where you need to stay, on staff, a fundamental but often uncontrollable element to the extent that it becomes more or less consciously responsible for actions that require the intervention of the International Criminal Court. It is no coincidence that the chief prosecutor Karim Khan has promoted the initiative to investigate what happened starting both from the crimes committed during the violent repression of the protests that took place in Kiev between 2013 and 2014, and from those perpetrated in Crimea and Ukraine Eastern, crimes for which it is even easier to talk about war crimes, of violations of the established protections and of the fighting procedures and rules punishable by virtue of the provisions of international treaties and laws regarding the law of war.

Let us not be surprised: the bodies abandoned on the streets of Bucha are nothing more than the visible peak of other crimes already perfected from the moment of the first missile launch on illegitimate targets, and ever since the Russian artillery began to fire indiscriminately according to the same script. performed in Grozny and Aleppo.

Bucha is probably the tip of an iceberg which, emerging, has begun to show the charred dead of Borodyanka and Irpin, a mountain of ice and blood that recalls the faces of the 8000 Bosnians of Srebrenica massacred by the Serbs and amassed in huge mass graves. The game does not change, neither does the war; while Lavrov dismisses everything as a fake orchestrated by the West and the European chancelleries dismiss Russian diplomats as personae non gratae, the recitation follows the same usual plot whereby the knowledge of the operations remains sealed off, where no one is aware of the overall design according to a own technique of intelligence from which the Russian president comes. If it ever comes to a judgment before a court, any military or political leader will be able to deny having known, passing the responsibility downwards transitively. One will hardly really know anything; just think of the rebounds of responsibility following the investigations that since 2014 have tried to shed light on the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing that flew over eastern Ukraine.

The Russian choice to throw Siberians, Chechens, mercenaries who have been granted the right to kill civilians and destroy entire villages into the fray is not accidental, and is connected to Putin's speech on February 21, in which the right to exist of the Ukraine as a nation and legitimizes a power that never answers for what it does, whether it punishes those who dare to define the current situation with its term - war - or poisons dissidents and exiles with polonium.

With Putin, Russian history went back 70 years, to Stalin, to the banality of evil the massacre of 22000 Polish officers, executives and journalists in Katyn Forest, the Nemmersdorf massacre of 443, all things that did not prevent Soviet participation in the criminal proceedings following a historical trial which, starting from Guernica, passed through Coventry to arrive in Dresden. Now, as then, Russia has only to gain by terrorizing civilians so that they do not support their army, which can only hit Russian targets.

Many, too many violations have been committed: from the transport of weapons and ammunition with emergency vehicles, to shooting at civilian targets, to the use of cluster bombs, to ambushes against journalists, doctors, firefighters, people lined up for bread, at the demolition of hospitals.

The Russian invasion gave rise to a historically retro war of ethnic annexation fought with modern and lethal means. The hunt for the culprit of Bucha's crimes is inevitable, whose images have struck the dormant European consciences, a hunt driven by the revelations of various sites which, with localizations and tags, seem to have confirmed the presence in the area of ​​unit 51460 corresponding to the 64 brigade of Russian motorized artillery stationed in Khabarovsk in the far east bordering Yakutia.

Conditionals are a must when it comes to the masters of disinformation, who have branded the story as fake news. What is certain is that the resources committed by the Russian government to modernize the army have not succeeded in erasing the pre-existing genetic defects. The technological hybridization of the war, which took part in the annexation of Crimea and in the support of the separatists of the eastern Ukrainian regions, cannot make us forget Chechnya, the accident of the nuclear submarine Kursk, the various episodes of friendly fire which occurred during the war in support of South Ossetia, up to little shop of horrors Syrian.

There is still a lack of a policy dedicated to Research & Development, just as awareness of the demographic crisis that has hit the European part, which forces the recruitment of Kalmyks, Ingushes, Dagestans and Ossetians, is showing culpably late.

The army begins to be tired, news of insubordination leaks: morale is low, efficient and new weapons are lacking4; the services seem to have erred in their predictions: violent insurrections could arise against which it would be difficult to maintain control. The events beat the rhythm, the availability of time more and more limited for both parties, forced to acquire advantages on the field.

The wake of war crimes, which began in Grozny, is denounced by the journalist Anna Politkovskaja, later murdered in Moscow in 2006, and continues with the looting by soldiers who, after looting everything possible in Ukrainian homes, then sent it by post ( !) from Belarus to their homes5. If it were not a tragedy it would be a paradoxical spectacle; ridiculous already is: the qualification of special military operation, and not of war, is allowing the investigation of judicial appeals aimed at avoiding the sending of operations to the area. Evidently, for Rosgvardia, the baton maintenance of public order towards civilians in the square is more attractive than operations conducted against a ferocious, armed and determined enemy who, even in Donbas, will continue to resist asymmetrically.

If the Russian conscripts knew little or nothing, it was essential to have recourse to the poor and ethnic minorities of the countryside, despised by the Russian component, enlisted with binding contracts and the promise of money. The Russian army is the army of minorities that have no affinity with Moscow imperialism.

But the partial international ostracism fueled above all by those countries that have suffered most severely from Russian hegemony, with the suspension from the UN Human Rights Council in Moscow, what weight does it have in the European renunciation of gas supplies? The crimes already committed have had little, as little weight so far; the measures under study intend to hit coal and maritime transport without significantly affecting, at the moment, oil and gas, the hydrocarbon oxygen of the Russian economy.

In the background, yet another debacle of international institutions, in fact very little incisive; In his speech to the UN, Zelensky reiterated that the invasion made clear the impossibility of preventing international aggression, comments that reflected the latent frustration over the failure of international institutions, with the OSCE, abandoning the mission of monitoring from eastern Ukraine since the first day of the war, and the IAEA, powerless in the face of Russian (suicide) assaults on nuclear sites.

That the facts, for now of Bucha, can be part of international criminal investigations is part of consolidated procedures6; how we can proceed in a future which is still indefinable, is much more difficult, given the different competences and possibilities of intervention of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court7. There is a lack of means to effectively prevent and suppress war crimes, so much so that one can imagine international law stuck with its folder in hand at the entrance to the UN security council.

Let's sum up starting from ideas. The current Russian ideology, which with Aleksandr Dugin has incredibly managed to popularize the German Carl Schmitt, has welded religious orthodoxy to military force8: therefore, the appeals to the call to arms of the patriarch Kirill, a very valid chaplain of the regime, should not be surprising. It matters little that the call from the Orthodox Christian altar is addressed above all to Muslim soldiers; the fact is that in the Russian army, apart from executive cadres, ethnic minorities9 they constitute a majority that does not feel war as its own, an aspect which, to remain in the church theme, sends transcendent motivations to be blessed.

The level of education of the minorities is low, the equipment is approximate, their destinations involve departments with unsophisticated armaments and sometimes affected by desertions and mutinies also given the constant practice of dedovschina10.

In this context, Ramzan Kadyrov's Chechens arrive on the scene, little exposed in combat but always ready to take over the territories already conquered. Difficult between stars Russians eradicate corruption; appropriating state assets is basically understandable practice, with the aspect of personal knowledge taking on relevance, with an interpretation of forms of morality led to prevail, according to a sort of variable geometry, over written disciplinary rules, with milder punishments than in the past they allow to keep in service graduates awake and capable of operating by placing themselves in the gray areas that the war imposes and that the various courts of justice will hardly be able to scratch.

While a low-intensity war scenario of attrition with the Ukrainian resistance looms, rumors of disobedience reach the Russian units, evidently hit by the impact with an enemy very different from the Chechen or Syrian one.

1 The Global Firepower, an index that establishes the military strength of the various countries, provides a picture from which the strong Russian military investments of approximately 154 billion USD per year can be deduced.

2 According to US sources, several soldiers have already been hospitalized in a hospital dedicated to the treatment of diseases caused by exposure to nuclear radiation. If there were confirmations, it would show a serious level of unpreparedness that has condemned the soldiers to lethal exposure.

3 war crime committed by the Red Army in East Prussia against German civilians and French and Belgian prisoners of war. Since the territory was divided between the USSR and Poland, the facts were censored for more than 40 years.

4 the failure rate to launch missiles would be 60%.

5 dozens of wagons loaded with goods have been spotted in the Ukrainian city of Buryn; other trucks are concentrated in the Belarusian Mazyr in Belarus. Bulky items are sent to Narovlya bazaar; the rest goes on for Russia.

6 Investigation already announced by the International Criminal Court and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

7 The IGC has the task of resolving disputes between UN member states, the International Criminal Court deals with international crimes committed by individuals and not by states. The ICC exercises its functions and powers on the territory of any State Party to the Rome Convention but, by means of a specific convention, its jurisdiction may extend to the territory of any State which so requests. If a crime becomes part of customary international law, the jurisdiction of the Court is also extended to non-signatory states to the Rome Convention.

8 The most significant symbol of this union can be identified in the construction of the Moscow cathedral, in the Victory Park, dedicated to the Russian armed forces.

9 Kazakhstan, Dagestan, Buryatia, Astrakhan

10 informal practice of hazing and abuse of young conscripts

Photo: Минобороны России