Stop it! Do you not see that you are running to suicide? Do you not see your soldiers driven out of Lyman? Do you not see the success of the Ukrainian counter-offensive on lands you had just annexed? Stop before it’s too late for your country because… Do the math, citizens of Russia, whether you are civilian or military, young or old, rich or poor, do it and you will understand.

In the West, this war has already cost you the brotherhood that ought to have united you with the other two Slavic and Orthodox peoples with whom you were a natural community. In Ukraine, you are now held collectively guilty of war crimes and countless abuses, while in Belarus you have become the ones who have allowed Lukashenka to stay in power by stifling a national aspiration to democracy.

The longer this war goes on, the harder it will be for you to regain these lost friendships, and in the East things are no better. One after another, the Central Asian states are coming to believe that by getting you bogged down in Ukraine, you are offering them the long-awaited opportunity to free themselves from your interminable tutelage.

In the East as in the West, all your “near abroad” is slipping away from you, but there is something even more serious for Russia. The more your influence diminishes on your borders, the more Siberia and its subsoil will become a land of Chinese conquest, not military but economic and commercial, because the power of Beijing is far more capable than that of the Kremlin.

You have a choice. Either you put an end to your aggression against Ukraine, or the cohesion of the Russian Federation will be shaken east of the Urals at the same time as it will be unravelled in the Caucasus. Yes, it is the very existence of your national unity that is in question, because open your eyes! It is not out of a wartime frenzy that Ramzan Kadirov is calling on you to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. It is because he fears that a Russian defeat would awaken Chechen independence and that his people would then make him accountable for his role as Vladimir Putin’s “faithful foot soldier”.

Not only is he not wrong, but if Chechnya were to take up arms again, its neighbours would also flare up. Look at what happened in Dagestan. The whole of the Caucasus is at stake in Ukraine, and to defend the unity of the 85 components of the Federation, you will have neither the resources that economic sanctions deprive you of, nor the skills, which the mobilisation has caused to flee abroad or fall into vain battles.

Wake up! Do not allow yourselves to be ostracized by allowing the nuclear taboo to be broken and this aggression to continue. Wake up now because you risk losing more in Ukraine than the United States did in Iraq: not just a war but your country.

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