Staunton, February 14 – Some are now comparing the deaths of Moscow’s mercenaries in Syria with the 1905 Battle of Tsushima Straits in which Russia suffered one of its most serious naval losses ever, an event that pointed to its defeat by Japan, commentator Yevgeny Ikhlov says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5A834389125CB
But the real parallel to the loss of Russian lives in Syria is with the Bay of Pigs fiasco Washington suffered in Cuba in 1961 when the American authorities failed to support their anti-Castro Cuban clients as promised. As a result, the latter were easily defeated; and that defeat echoed through American society and the halls of government as a result.
The same thing, Ikhlov suggests, is about to happen in Russia even though the Kremlin continues to deny the obvious and to cast doubt on reports about the deaths of people that it is quite obvious the Kremlin sent into battle and now wants to be able to deny any responsibility for.
There are at least three reasons why the Putin regime not only will not be able to get away with such disinformation this time but also will fail to be able to prevent this disaster from having consequences far larger in Moscow than anyone is currently anticipating.
First, there are just too many reports about family members who have lost a relative in these attacks in the media. The Kremlin may be able to muddy the waters by challenging specific numbers, but it can’t hope to silence all those who have lost a loved one (e.g, znak.com/2018-02-13/intervyu_s_suprugoy_pogibshego_v_sirii_uralskogo_boyca_chvk_vagnera).
Second, there are simply too many people who know about the Russian mercenary group involved, it has had too high a profile in the past, including meetings with Putin himself, and they are starting to talk as well. Their stories are also circulating and attracting ever more attention (e.g., nakanune.ru/articles/113700/
And third, the Russian government has guaranteed that such stories will increase not decrease in number in the coming weeks by pursuing the legalization of mercenary groups in the Duma. Such groups are illegal at present, but the Duma now wants to pass a low bringing them into the legal field (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/01/moscow-preparing-to-replace-its-forces.html and rusmonitor.com/v-rossii-legalizuyut-chvk.html
All of that will ensure that talk about these events will continue, whatever Peshkov and Putin say, and that in turn will make it likely that ever more Russians will conclude as Rosbalt’s Sergey Shelin already has, that this event like others recently shows that those running Russia at home and abroad are “incompetent” at best (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2018/02/13/1682032.html
Putin may try to escape from this situation by launching a major purge of others who bear responsibility for the loss of Russian lives in Syria or by ramping up the conflict with the United States whose forces killed them. But his fingerprints are all over Moscow’s policy of using mercenaries – and it is going to be very hard for him not to lose more than face as a result.