By Bulgan Batdorj
The war caused displacements of millions and thousands of casualties. The United Nations voted to condemn Russia and called for withdrawal. Mongolia abstained in the vote (please more on Mongolia’s government response in this Bolor’s article). The Mongolians are divided behind the formal “neutrality” position over this war. Marissa’s timeline on events in Mongolia and here relating to the invasion of Ukraine shows the varying motivations. Whether the motivation is national security, nationalism or democratic identity, there are some supporting Ukraine, some supporting Putin and some who are painfully aware of Mongolia’s geographic, economic, political and social links to Russia.
One of the reoccurring themes that Mongolians seem to be rather united is the social media posts of the buriyat soldiers fighting this war in Ukraine. The people of Buriyats, Tuva, and Kalmyk are Mongolian people who shared history, land, culture and nomadism.
Buryats in Mongolia were mass executed during the great political purge in the 1930s. We hear stories of how all buriyat men were arrested from their homes never to return, or fought the war but were prosecuted regardless. The social media posts related to the buriyat soldiers connect the present to the past griefs.
My great grandfather fought the Nazis for the USSR. Even though he fought to defend his country, as a Buryat minority, he faced persecution after the war and fled to Mongolia. Watching this young Buryat soldier being cannon-fodder and being mocked just breaks my heart. ???? https://t.co/qMcFKS8vNA
— Anand Tumurtogoo / Дайртан Төмөртогоогийн АНАНД (@AnandDairtan) February 28, 2022
Post below: Former PM, Mendsaikhan Enkhsaixan: Russian military leaders are accusing, arresting, and convicting many officers and generals in the name of the Russian Federation’s Security (informal translation).
Энэ оросуудын хэлмэгдүүлдэг арга нь. Манай өвөө авга 2 анхны ардын журамт цэрэг байж байгаад буриадын хэлмэгдүүлэлтээр оросод цаазлуулсан. Ар гэрийнхэн ч зовсон. Би хүртэл хүүхэд бхда буриад гэдгээ хэлдгүй айж нууж л байсан.
— Agiimaa Janchivdorj (@AgiimaaJanchiv1) March 20, 2022
The Agiimaa Janchivdorj post says: This is one of the ways Russians purge. My grandfather and uncle were both prosecuted as Buriyat soldiers in the Mongolian military army. The family suffered. I hid my Buriyat ethnicity as a child (informal translation).
These social media posts on the buriyat soldiers remind Mongolians of the dark days of repression, manipulation, and hopelessness regardless of their perception and remind us of the time Mongolia was not in charge of its fate. Not only the reminiscence is worrying, but also the implications of the war in present times, and in the future are sombre for Mongolia. But now, I pray for all lives and livelihoods lost in this war.