Author Topic: Russia deliberately targeting civilians to 'weaponize' Syrian refugee crisis?  (Read 2850 times)

LetterRip

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Seriously effed up if true,

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In fact, Russia's airstrikes on civilians have been so prolific that NATO Commander Philip Breedlove posited that terrorizing civilian-rich areas is actually an intentional tactic by Russia to exacerbate and even "weaponize" the Syrian refugee crisis against Europe.

http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-just-made-an-outrageous-claim-about-its-bombing-campaign-in-syria-2016-3

Fenring

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LR, it's not like you to pass around rumors put out by the pentagon. I've heard this claim many times and it remains as ridiculous now as it did the first time. The narrative that Russia is weaponizing refugees is the latest part of an ongoing effort to create the spin that Russia should be blamed for the refugee crisis as it stands now; that they are the ones causing turmoil in Syria. The entire effort is laughable and I hope not too many people are taken in by it.

TheDrake

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I reject the premise also, but the Russians are unapologetic supporters of Assad, which is their motivation.

D.W.

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What makes this suggestion ridiculous?  At the least this seems like well crafted propaganda to me.  It seems plausible to me, though I don't follow the situation with a magnifying glass. 

Care to explain what holes exist to push this from "I think this is wrong because..." into the realm of "ridiculous"?

Fenring

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What makes this suggestion ridiculous?  At the least this seems like well crafted propaganda to me.  It seems plausible to me, though I don't follow the situation with a magnifying glass. 

Care to explain what holes exist to push this from "I think this is wrong because..." into the realm of "ridiculous"?

I suppose it's only ridiculous in context. In principle I wouldn't put it past Russia to do nasty things, which I suppose could include weaponizing whatever. But in the specific case of Syria the attempt to paint Russia as the source of problems (especially as the cause of the refugee crisis) is so far from honest that it's right out of Orwell. Since this particular narrative comes on the coattails of a series of other narratives that have been pushed for a few years designed to vilify Russia and Putin, it comes off as ridiculous to me, at the very least.

LetterRip

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I don't think they were trying to paint it as a cause, just a multiplier.  The larger the influx of refugees, the greater the problems that Europe will have absorbing and dealing with them.

TheDrake

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Breedlove's statement, "These indiscriminate weapons used by both Bashar al-Assad, and the non-precision use of weapons by the Russian forces, I can't find any other reason for them other than to cause refugees to be on the move and make them someone else's problem"

Except barrel bombs are being used by Syria, not Russia. So, it seems more likely that Assad is weaponizing refugees, if anyone.

If you go to the transcript, I find a lot of interesting things. When asked a follow up question about the comment that Putin is weaponizing migration (p.72)

"I think I have to step back a little bit in the conflict to start first with Bashar al Assad because this story builds from that point..."

About the Russians:

"And it is hard to tell from what their real intent is."

And then goes on to speculate that he can't think of any other reason than to create refugees, particularly ones fleeing to Europe.

I can think of a lot of reasons to target civilians indiscriminately. We did so in the Vietnam war. In the American Civil War, whole cities were burned to the ground to remove civilian support in the form of goods, services, food, medical assistance.

The mass movement of civilian populations can also make it hard for the anti-Assad forces to maneuver, or burden them with providing aid to fleeing civilians. Senator Cotton goes on to suggest that Assad might be motivated by ethnic cleansing. Breedlove responds "Yes, sir."

For me, it is more plausible that Assad and perhaps Putin want to move people out who might otherwise directly or indirectly support the forces seeking Assad's overthrow, and possibly to try and undermine the resolve of those forces by "strategic" bombing, not unlike what Germany did against the UK and the Allies did later against Germany.

A final point, he hangs his Russian statement on their use of non-precision weaponry. Isn't it possible that they are just indifferent to civilian casualty, and that non-precision bombs are cheaper?

In one hundred pages of testimony, he only refers to Russian precision twice.

That said, would Russia like to see the EU and NATO rend themselves apart? They wouldn't lose any sleep over it, and they do stand to benefit in their Ukrainian adventure if such a thing transpired. And Trump is saying things that undermine NATO - "NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money."