Staunton, September 28 – There are four reasons why Russian military losses in Syria are rising sharply, Novyye izvestiya reports today but “the main one” is that Vladimir Putin wants that conflict over before presidential elections next spring (newizv.ru/article/general/28-09-2017/chetyre-prichiny-po-kotorym-rezko-vyrosli-poteri-rossiyskoy-armii-v-sirii).
The Moscow paper reproduce the argument of a Russian blogger whose screenname is Starley as picked up by the popular Russian news aggregator site Newsland.ru (newsland.com/community/4109/content/pochemu-v-sirii-rezko-vozrosli-poteri-rossiiskikh-vks/6012771).
Reports about the death of a Russian general and two colonels coming on top of additional reports about combat losses among lower ranks has raised the question as to why there should be an uptick in the number of dead and wounded if the war is going as well as the Moscow media say, the blogger suggested.
He offers four explanations for this:
· First, it is theoretically possible that “the Russian side has ceased to conceal true losses in Syria. But in fact this is hardly possible,” given past practice and the government’s control of the media.
· Second, the losses reflect a heightened level of participation by Russian forces in the fight with the Islamists. That is certainly the case given that the size of the Russian military contingent there has reached its largest level ever and its members have been thrown into the fight.
· Third, the United States has supplied more arms via third parties to those against whom Russian forces are fighting. With better weapons, Russia’s opponents can inflict more damage.
· And fourth, he says, there is “the main cause: The Kremlin has established definite time frames for the conclusion of the war with the Islamists.” The war must be over before Putin’s reelection next spring.
Given that time frame, the blogger says, the Russian forces are fighting harder – and because they are and because their opponents are better armed than in the past, they are suffering more losses and among the higher ranks.