One Soldier's War by Babchenko
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This week, Matt and Cameron examine One Soldier’s War by Arkady Babchenko, the biography of a Russian soldier who served in the first and second Russo-Chechen Wars. This is, in all honesty, a pretty tough read; but there is an unfortunately dearth of English-language focus on Russia’s first military conflicts as a post-Soviet state. Don’t worry if you’re not all that familiar with Chechen history—we’ll be covering all of that in an extremely long context section!
We tried to keep the discussion from getting too dark, but it’s hard to get away from the basic nature of the work. Just something to keep in mind as you decide whether or not you want to listen to this episode right this moment.
Major themes: Major Bummers, the Republic of Chechnya, The Recursive Nature of Geo-Political Conflict
06:43 - Oops, I should have refreshed my memory before starting this episode. The basic breakdown of federal subdivisions in Russia is
-Republics, Oblasts, Krais (Functionally indistinct from Oblasts), Autonomous Okrugs (This and the above are what I forgot), Autonomous Oblasts (This is the Jewish Autonomous Oblast I mention)
Also there are the federal cities of Moscow and Petersburg, which are administered differently than other cities. (Also also there’s technically Sevastopol but that’s a hot can of worms that I’m not going to touch here).
12:24 - Bordering constituent republic of Russia, I meant to say.
38:33 - I should have said “Soviet military history” here. That would be a little more accurate to my knowledge base, as I admittedly am not as familiar with the Imperial era.
42:53 - Return from war, I meant to say.
47:05 - He may actually be living in Israel at the moment. It’s not super clear.