Tender for medals gives clue to total number of Russians involved in Syrian conflict since September 2015
Russia’s Defense Ministry appears to have accidentally revealed that more than 20,000 personnel have been involved in operations inside Syria since Moscow’s intervention in September 2015.
The Ministry announced a 45.3 million ruble ($792,000) tender on Tuesday for medals, insignia, and letterhead cards. Among the awards are 20,000 medals for “Participant of the Military Operation in Syria” and 50 medals “For the Liberation of Palmyra” and “For the Clearance of Palmyra”.
The tender also includes medals “For Military Valor” and “For Distinction in Military Service”; the insignia “For the Long March” with the image of a ship and submarine, and commemorative badges for “Participants and Guests of the Military Parade on Red Square”.
The “Participant of the Military Operation in Syria” recognition began in November 2015, less than two months after Russia began intensive bombing of opposition areas to prop up the Assad regime.
The tender does not offer a breakdown between those who have completed service in Syria and those who are still deployed.
However, in September 2016, Russian authorities offered another inadvertent clue to the size of the current deployment in the country. Voting figures for Duma elections showed 4,751 Russian citizens casting their votes in Syria, four times more than those who voted in the Duma elections of 2011.
Of the votes, 4,378 were at Russia’s Hmeimim military base and 193 at the Russian embassy in Damascus.
TOP PHOTO: Russian troops in northern Hama Province, November 2015