Speaking to the Russian military at the airbase in Khemeymim in December 11, 2017, Putin said about “the defeat of the most efficient group of international terrorists” and ordered the withdrawal of the main part of the Russian contingent in Syria. Feeling himself the winner, Putin talked about the future of Syria and Russia’s participation in its reconstruction. Listening to his speeches, there was an impression that the international coalition did not do anything, and if not for Russia, the coalition’s actions were doomed to failure.
But is it really so? What are the real achievements and losses of Russia in this war?
According to the official version, Bashar Assad addressed Russia with a request for military assistance to Syria in the fight against ISIS, but in reality it’s not like that at all. The first reason is that Syria is considered Russia’s closest partner in the Middle East and the Kremlin did not want to lose this piece of its zone of influence. According to the Bloomberg, the initiators of the outbreak of military operations in Syria were Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and the head of the presidential administration, Sergei Ivanov. The possibility of military intervention in the civil war in Syria, the Russian leadership began to consider in August 2015. The second reason is an attempt to divert the attention of the world community from Ukraine and to exchange its participation in the international coalition for the lifting of sanctions.
During the whole time of air attacks by the Russian Air Force 35,000 militants and … 2,183 civilians, including children, were killed. This is reported by the center for documentation of violations in Syria. It turns out that out of the total number destroyed by the Russian military, every 20th was a civilian, and this is not counting the wounded and injured. It is too expensive “help from brothers” for Syrians
And, this is not to include the destruction of hospitals, schools, private homes, markets, mosques, bakeries, factories and refugee camps. According to the international organization Amnesty International, at least 27 hospitals were attacked by Russian and pro-Asad troops from September 2015 to March 2016.
Already you can hear the squealing of the trolls, bots and other pro-Russian Internet evil spirits, that this is all a lie and a provocation. But facts are a stubborn thing. There is an investigation of a team of journalists from Bellingcat and the “Syrian archive”, in which all the crimes of Russian troops against civilians are carefully documented. And no matter how pathetic it may sound, but this is more than enough for The Hague Court.
The next “achievement” of Russian troops in Syria is the amount of liberated territory from the militants. October 24, 2017, Russian Defense Minister Shoigu announced the release of the territory “an area of 503 thousand 223 square kilometers,” instead of the real area of Syria is 185 thousand square kilometers. And then the entire adequate world was surprised to learn that Syria had specifically added to the territory. The BBC conducted its investigation and, to its surprise, learned that unlike the entire civilized world, which uses a flat projection to measure the area of states, in Russia they use special relief maps “for a long time” that give more accurate calculations. This is the same relief, the curvature of which prevented the haughty S-400 shoot down the American “Tomahawks” during the attack on the Shayrat air base. The liberation of the territory, which is three times bigger than official, is a victory, but a victory over mind, and nothing else.
According to Shoigu, “Russian aviation destroyed 948 training camps, 666 factories and workshops for the production of ammunition and 1,500 units of military equipment for terrorists. Also, the Russian troops defeated large terrorist groups in the most important areas and liberated 998 cities and towns”. Proceeding from what has been said, it seems that Syria was liberated only by Russia, and the rest of the members of the international coalition did not understand what they were doing. After the statements of the participants on the international coalition about their contribution to the victory at ISIS in Syria, the spokeswoman of the Russian MFA Maria Zakharova said with indignation that after taking Olympic medals and seizing Russian property in the US, the Americans and the company want to steal military achievements of Russia.
But if you take the data from the Russian Wikipedia, the Russian Air Force conducted 77,000 thousand attacks on terrorists, while destroying 35,000 militants, 948 training camps, 666 factories and ammunition production workshops, 1,500 military equipment of terrorists. It turns out that more than 38 thousands attacks missed or destroyed other unknown targets. This indicates the “high professionalism” of the Russian military, or there were other targets, which are better to keep silent.
After the “successes” of the Russian troops in Syria we will pass to their losses. Officially, Russia recognized the death of 41 servicemen. But this is officially, having worked out the practice of using the unrecognized persons in the Crimea and in the Donbas, Wagner’s PMC was involved widely in Syria, of course with Putin’s tacit approval. The principle is very simple, there is no need for them to make excuses or justify them. There is simply no official data on them, but according to the confirmed data of the Fontanka edition, the losses are about one hundred people killed and more than 300 wounded. And how many more deaths of “hunters for a long ruble” have not yet been confirmed, it remains only to guess. According to unconfirmed data, their account exceeded one thousand, but even the confirmed data about the death of Wagner’s employers the official leadership of Russia continues to be denied.
In general, Russia officially confirms the official losses only after when it is confirmed by international media, as happened in the last two cases. The death of the crew of the helicopter and two servicemen during the shelling of the airbase in Khmeimim Russia officially confirmed only on the fourth day. It’s hard to explain to Russian people why the soldiers are dying when Russia’s participation in the war in Syria is over and the withdrawal of the contingent is over.
During the conflict, Russia officially lost four aircraft, six helicopters and two UAVs. Therefore, to recognize the loss of seven planes on New Year’s Eve that were stationed on the territory of the airbase would be a disgrace to the Russian leadership, because these are the biggest losses for the time of the Russian presence in Syria. And it does not need to admit, just write off in a quiet and that’s it. It’s not people, they have no relatives. But sewing in a sack cannot be concealed, and already there are pictures of damaged planes and information in the Internet about “secret foreign technologies” that the insurgents used when attacking the air base. But there is a suspicion that just an exaggerated conceit about their safety and the Russian habit of celebrating the New Year “in full” were used by the rebels during the attack, and nothing more. By the way, according to the Russians themselves, the Russian airbase lost Kalmykia’s annual budget overnight, so there is something to think about, for what it’s all about.
Summing up, the situation in Syria is not so rosy today, as Putin said about it and the peace is still far away, and the situation with Russian allies in Iran leaves much to be desired too, as recent events show. All this looks more like Pyrrhic victory and, as they say, to be continued.