Moscow planning to send 60,000 Muslim troops to Syria, Saudi newspaper says

Russian troops and armored vehicles

 

Analysis & Opinion, Military analysis, Russia

Citing unnamed “informed sources,” a Saudi newspaper says that “Russia has prepared approximately 60,000” predominantly Sunni Muslim soldiers from the North Caucasus to dispatch to Syria, a dramatic expansion in the limited Chechen police contingent now stationed in Aleppo and within the TURAN battalion near Palmyra.

Marwan Ash-Shamali, a Saudi commentator, published that statement in Riyad’s Al-Watan newspaper four days ago. It has now been translated and has received wide coverage in the Russian media (inosmi.ru from the original available at alwatan.com.sa).

The Saudi writer argues that the use of such Muslim troops gives Moscow an advantage in Syria because they can more easily cooperate with or even blend in with Syrian government forces. But he suggests that “in the near term,” such units are unlikely to play “a major role” in that country. That would happen after all of them were there. When that will be is unknown.

Not surprisingly, Ash-Shamali focuses on the impact of these troops in Syria where they would strengthen the Sunni positions favored by Riyad. But the impact of the formation of such forces within Russia is likely to be far greater, spreading from the military to the political and social system.

Creating ethnically or more rarely even religiously-based units is not something Russian rulers have been comfortable with at any time. They have done so only under extreme pressure as during World War I, the Russian Civil War, and World War II, and then they have rapidly disbanded these forces viewing them as a threat.

Russian commanders in recent years have worried about the high concentration of soldiers from Muslim regions in various units, the result of the demographic collapse of the ethnic Russians and the still rapid growth of Muslim nations, and Moscow has sought to compensate for this by cutting severely the draft in Muslim areas.

That hasn’t been popular either in those places or among Russians. In the former, many object to being kept out of the military because that limits career options in the police and other siloviki units. And in the latter, Russians can see that they are being asked to pay a higher “tax” than their Muslim counterparts. A 60,000-man Muslim army would only exacerbate this sense.

But more immediately, many Russians would likely view this as yet another concession by Moscow to Chechnya and its leader Ramzan Kadyrov and an effort by Vladimir Putin to create a kind of janissary corps to defend him against challenges coming from the Russian people.

And to the extent they do, many Russians and those politicians who listen to them are certain to object either to the creation with Moscow’s money of what could be an independent Chechen army or to a new Savage Division, as the North Caucasus troops were known in World War I, that might be used to suppress demonstrations.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Dagwood Bumstead

    Whether sending these troops to Syria will work in the dwarf’s favour remains to be seen. First, he sending Sunnis to cooperate with his allies alawite Assad and Shia Iran and Hezbollah. There’s no guarantee they will cooperate smoothly.
    Second, he is undoubtedly sending the Muslims instead of ethnic Dwarfstanians in an effort to reduce the casualties among the latter, the same mistake Brezhnev and co made in Afghanistan. It won’t take the Muslims long to catch on. Then what? It could also be an indication that despite all the official denials the casualties in Syria among Dwarfstanians are far more serious than official announcements would have us believe.
    Third, with significant numbers of Muslims from Dwarfstan in IS and other groups fighting Assad, these Russian-language fighters will undoubtedly try to undermine the loyalty of Dwarfstan’s new fighters to Assad.

    I wonder whether the dwarf has really considered the possible consquences.

    • Mykola Banderachuk

      no putin has not considered the consequences but that is okay, let him overextend himself and let him keep spending the cash, all will add up to going broke. good thing for the russia.

      • Ihor Dawydiak

        Exactly. It does not matter who Putin sends to engage in his dirty wars. It will be the Russian people who will have to pay the ultimate cost. The result: implosion and another totally predictable end to another madman’s dream of creating and maintaining an empire.

  • Tchitcherine

    Sorry, but how would a Saudi newspaper know?

  • zorbatheturk

    Putin will do anything to prop up his mass murdering buddies the Assad clan. Syria must remain a RuSSian puppet at all costs.

    • Eddy Verhaeghe

      It is not about a Syrian puppet, but about gas. Lots of it and much cheaper than Russian gas. Qatari gas to be more precise. If Assad falls, the way is open for pipelines bringing that cheap gas via Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey – all of them majority Sunni – to Europe, undercutting Gazprom’s gas exports.

      Politics is a dirty game. Geopolitics is an even dirtier game.

      And even if Russia succeeds in preventing that, there’s alternative ways to get that Qatari and other gas to Europe.

      And even if that is not a big enough success, the growing importance of alternative energy will in the end lessen the use of hydrocarbons in Europe. In my country Belgium, the Flemish government (the government of the Dutch speaking part and the economic powerhouse of Belgium) recently decided to stop sales of cars using fossil energy sources by 2035… This being a demand of the European Union.
      Knowing how markets work, nobody will be buying cars using fossil energy years before 2035 in Flanders.

      Russia is ‘fighting’ a rearguard action. Instead of investing money in its military and spilling the blood of innocent Syrians, Russia should invest in creating a post fossil energy economy. Until a few years ago Russia had a generation to accomplish that. By now at most 15 years are left to accomplish that feat.

      Knowing a bit about the resource curse, the people at the helm in the Russian economy only see the spoils of today’s gas and oil trade.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        And Dwarfstan is losing customers for its oil and gas. Poland has already let Moscow know that it won’t renew current contracts when they expire in 2019 and 2021. Lithuania has been buying gas from Norway since it opened its LNG terminal at Klaipeda in December 2014. Estonia and Latvia will also move away from Dwarfstan’s gas. The Baltics aren’t huge customers, but it all adds up to less gas sold, fewer $$$ for the offshore bank accounts of the demented dwarf and Co, and fewer $$$ for Dwarfstan’s treasury.
        As for 15 years to transform the Dwarfstanian economy, it doesn’t have 15 years. The country will collapse before 2030, perhaps even before 2025.

  • Dirk Smith

    moscow always enlists non-ruSSians to fight their gangster’s wars. Nothing new here…..