Putin poses multiple risks and threats to the West, and the war in Ukraine affects key aspects of international security. The EU is vulnerable to the risk of terrorist threats, and with Russia’s war these have significantly increased. Putin wants to destabilize Europe as much as possible, to provoke chaos and recession, and is willing to go to any lengths to approve war crimes. If terrorism in the Russian Caucasus revives, it will inevitably destabilise the Middle East and the Balkans. It will be difficult for Brussels to cope with such threats, which will have a devastating impact on the political, economic and social components of the EU.
Putin makes extensive use of Muslims in the war with Ukraine, and in addition to Russian Muslims, recruits from the Middle East are brought in. There are Muslims living in the Balkans. Before long, Russian Muslims may recruit Balkan Muslims to participate in the war. In this event, Europe may face not only a large-scale terrorist threat, but also an increase in religious extremism.
The EU should realise how great the risks of destabilising Europe are, which Putin is creating through war with Ukraine. By their policy of deliberately targeting and killing Ukrainian civilians, the Russians show that they are at war with civilisation. If Putin is able to realise his goals, the civilisational formation of the West could be completely destroyed if Russian influence spreads in Europe. Russia’s aggression is hybrid: it includes not only a military component, but also a religious, political and economic one. In essence, Putin is creating a tool for the comprehensive destabilisation of Europe that weakens and divides the European geopolitical model without harming Russia. Such a threat to Europe has not existed since the end of World War II.
Moreover, Putin has created large-scale risks of a resurgence of terrorism in the Caucasus. Ramzan Kadyrov equates the war in Ukraine with jihad, twisting the meaning of the word. If Chechen terrorism is revived, it will inevitably lead to an increase in the terrorist threat in the Middle East. The Middle East could be affected by Putin’s actions in Ukraine. In addition to the risk of a terrorist threat and further socio-political destabilisation, there will inevitably be the discrediting of Muslims around the world. Kadyrov is sending Chechens to wage a war of invasion in Ukraine whilst presenting it to his troops as a righteous cause.
The Kremlin is recruiting Middle Eastern mercenaries to be sent to war in Ukraine. Using money as bait, Putin is throwing Arab volunteers into the hottest spots on the front so that instead of Russians, Arabs will die as cannon fodder. When war crimes are committed, they can be blamed on mercenaries, and when they die, there is no obligation on the Russian state to pay pensions, nor any PR backlash in Russia from the families of the victims of Russia’s war.
Russia is destroying Ukraine just as it destroyed Syria. Russian troops in 2016 practically wiped out Aleppo, one of Syria’s most ancient cities and its cultural capital. In Syria, the Russian military committed crimes against humanity. Today they are committing the same crimes in Ukraine.