Expanding the problem.
The mutual drive to widen the war.
The Wall Street Journal report that the Russians are recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine provides more questions than answers. It isn’t news that the Russians have sought non-Russian cover for their war, but what we know suggests that the efforts have been mostly unsuccessful. Belarus, despite providing territory for invasion staging and the occasional ballistic-missile attack, has thus far refused to contribute significant forces. We are reasonably sure that Kazakhstan refused a Russian request to send troops, which no doubt struck the Kremlin as ingratitude. We also know that, though technically not international, the Chechen satrapy within the Russian Federation has contributed its own distinct fighting units to Russia’s war. Recruiting in Syria, presumably with Syrian-regime acquiescence, therefore breaks no new ground.
The question is why Syria and Syrians, and here the answers given don’t quiet add up. WSJ reports that they are sought for their urban-combat expertise, and there are undeniably a great many Syrians possessing that. But it is exceptionally doubtful that there is unique Syrian capability in this sphere that the Russians don’t have. Neither national army, such as they are, offers much by way of qualification except to the extent they’re willing to blast away with field artillery over open sights in residential neighborhoods. This is not something Russia needs Syrians for.
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