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“A local girl asked: 'Do you really believe you're liberating us from the Nazis?'” Confessions of Russian and Soviet Occupation Witnesses

“Russia has never attacked anyone first.” These words of Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov (echoed by Vladimir Gundyaev) not only reflect the Kremlin's view of Russian history, but also resonate with the way national history is taught in Russian schools. The Insider has previously reviewed the wars of aggression waged by Russia and the USSR. This time, eyewitnesses - those who observed Russian occupation with their own eyes - will speak out. We give the floor to witnesses of the Russian (Soviet) military intervention in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, Georgia and Syria. They describe how Moscow justified the occupation back then, how the local population fought the interventionists and how the international community reacted to the occupation.

  • Hungary, 1956: “Tell the world what they are doing to us!”

  • Czechoslovakia, 1968: “People chanted: go home!”

  • Afghanistan, 1979-1989: “Slaughtering, shooting and burying them while still alive”

  • Georgia, 2008: “They looted everything they could carry”

  • Syria, 2015 – present: “Residential neighborhoods were bombed with barbaric brutality”

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Hungary, 1956: “Tell the world what they are doing to us!”

Pretext for military intervention: providing “fraternal assistance to the Hungarian people in defending their socialist gains, defeating the counterrevolution and eliminating the threat of a revival of fascism.”

Casualties: as a result of the suppression of the revolution, according to various estimates, 2,500 to 3,000 Hungarians were killed, about 20,000 wounded, the country launched massive repressions, about 200,000 people fled from Hungary to the West.

László Eörsi, researcher of the 1956 events

The developments in Ukraine bring to mind the suppression of the 1956 revolution, because the formula is similar: a people striving for independence and sovereignty confronts a superpower that realizes imperial goals. However, the Hungarians did not have the opportunity to resist like the Ukrainians, since there were far fewer of them, almost only civilian forces fought, with significantly worse weapons. And no one supported their fight.

The Soviet Union brought troops into Hungary twice in the fall of 1956, but the October and November battles must be separated. At the time of the October invasion, the Soviet leadership did not want to fight; they trusted that if they marched with their heavy weapons and armor, it would deter the resistance. At dawn on November 4, the Soviet forces attacked again – breaking their promise. During the November invasion the soldiers were completely misled and encouraged to fight mercilessly against the enemy. They fired at all moving targets. But even then, they did not fight as cruelly as they do now against Ukraine. In general, the unarmed population was not terrorized.

Since 1849, when the Habsburgs defeated the war of independence with the help of tsarist armies, the Hungarians had been viewing the Russians unfavorably. During World War II, the Hungarians – as an ally of the Germans – committed war crimes in the Soviet Union first, and then the Soviet invaders did the same at the end of the war. The Hungarians were afraid of communism since the Soviet system was a terrible oppression. It did not ease much, even after the terror had undoubtedly been greatly reduced during the Kádár era. Yeltsin made a strong gesture and even handed over related Soviet sources. Yet the perception of the Russians did not improve even after that, the majority of Hungarian society did not sympathize with the Russians. Today's government managed to turn this around by almost completely silencing the opposition and using clever propaganda. Hungarian society is currently strongly divided regarding the aggression in Ukraine. Many people believe the information of today's government, which is undisguisedly Putinist.

Lajos Lederer, journalist

Excerpt from the November 18, 1956 report in the British Observer

On Sunday, 4 November I got back to my hotel, shaken and exhausted at 2am, only a few hours before the avalanche began. I had a last look at my young friends - some 30 wounded boys - who were quartered in an improvised field-hospital in the hotel. They knew the Russians were coming back. They did not wish to be consoled. They only regretted that they were not fit to fight. <...>

It was a grey dawn… The city was deathly quiet - except for the agonising cries of wounded who had to be left unaided. Then, suddenly, there was the rattle and rumble of tracked vehicles. Soon the skies were flickering with the flash of gunfire, and the roar of guns shook the air. The Battle of Budapest had begun.

The skies were flickering with the flash of gunfire, and the roar of guns shook the air. The Battle of Budapest had begun

My journalistic colleagues and I decided to migrate to the British Legation… We were all to be underground by 11 o'clock that morning because the Soviet Commander-in-Chief had issued an ultimatum: unless the city surrendered by noon it would be bombed from the air.<...>

Just before midnight we heard the rumbling of heavy Soviet tanks, some of them passing our building in the direction of nearby Andrassy Street. There they were concentrating and making a laager for the night. Thousands of freedom fighters moved into an extemporized attack before dawn. This attack on the tanks led to one of the heaviest battles. I watched it from my window. More than 30 tanks were destroyed. And after that the Soviet tanks never stayed in the centre of the city at night. Every night, before midnight, they moved out, to come back at dawn.

Budapest, 1956
Budapest, 1956

The new day broke to the deadly roar of tanks. They were coming in in much greater force than on the day before. The Soviet tanks shelled every house in this boulevard with total savagery. This was the order of the day. And reports came in all that morning saying that the same sort of thing was going on in many other places. By evening there was scarcely a building in the main boulevards of Budapest which had not been torn open by Soviet shells. People swarmed to the Legation all day, hundreds more telephoned, imploring the Great Powers to intervene. 'Tell the world what they are doing to us!' they cried. And we could do nothing. The outside world was busy elsewhere, in Suez. We were ashamed. We could offer nothing but a promise that we would do our best to tell the world about these horrors.

<...> We managed on the third day to get out into the streets. I saw small children standing by the tanks and cursing the crews for what they had done. 'Do you really believe,' one little girl was asking in Russian (which was compulsory in schools) 'that you have come to liberate us from a handful of Fascists?'

'You unspeakable swine,' another shouted. 'You won't' get away with this!' The tank crews themselves looked tired. They were dirty and bewildered. At first they would try to argue back: but in the end they gave up. They themselves were hardly more than boys, some of them obviously of Mongol blood. They were shabby in the extreme - shabbier than those I met in Budapest and Vienna at the end of the war. Dumbly, they put up with being spat at and cursed. Their expressions seemed to say that they knew they deserved nothing better. They sat motionless by their machine-guns in their turrets, but they did not shoot.

Czechoslovakia, 1968: “People chanted: go home!”

Pretext for military intervention: “ providing the fraternal Czechoslovak people with urgent assistance” in eliminating the threat to “the socialist system and statehood from counter-revolutionary forces that have entered into an alliance with external forces hostile to socialism.”

Casualties: the most common estimate is 137 civilians dead as a result of the invasion; more than 70,000 people fled the country.

Libor Dvorak, Czech Radio Observer, Translator from Russian

At the end of the summer of 1968, I was exactly twenty years old, having just entered the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University. We lived in a huge house right across the street from the then Ministry of Defense building on Freedom Square, in Prague's sixth district. That day, August 21, started very early for me, half past five in the morning, and very strangely. I woke up to loud shouting from the street. I looked out the window and saw protesters standing on a truck, shouting something indistinct, Czechoslovakian flags flying over their heads. I went back to sleep, but at that moment the phone rang in the corridor. Dad picked up the phone. The light in his office was on - I could see that he had been up for a long time. The radio was on, too, broadcasting in English. “Yes,” Dad said, “we already know everything. The most important thing is to be careful!” Not thinking anything, I asked who was calling at this hour, and my father said it was my brother, who is 100 kilometers away from Prague. “What's going on anyway?” -”We're being occupied.” - “By whom?!” I thought at once of the Americans, the Chinese, even the West Germans. “Our allies in the Warsaw Pact,” my father answered.

I didn't ask anything else, and ran out into the street, where I immediately met two friends. Tanks and armored personnel carriers were already all over the place. People were walking through the streets completely lost, many shouting the main slogan of those days to the occupiers: “Go home!” We walked through the center - through Prague Castle, already besieged by the Soviets, past the government building, to the Communist Party Central Committee building, and then to Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square all the way to Czechoslovak Radio. Automatic rifle fire could be heard from there - fortunately it turned out they were not shooting at a huge crowd of people, the shots were fired into the air [nevertheless, it was near the radio station that the local population suffered the most casualties - 16 dead and several dozen wounded; these people had tried to prevent the Soviet military from taking over the building].

Prague, 1968
Prague, 1968

As we approached the Party Central Committee on the Vltava embankment, we saw two guys, a Czech and a Russian soldier, trying to negotiate something - apparently not with much success. The Czech was holding a bloody Czechoslovak flag, which, as it turned out, had covered the corpse of one of the first victims of the occupation early in the morning. The guy stepped back, and I spoke to the Soviet soldier. I still remember what he said to me: “My name is Seryozha, I'm from near Voronezh. In early summer I finished my two-year term of service in the GDR and was immediately recruited there for another two years to take part in some emergency exercises. I spent over a month on the Czechoslovakian border in this red-hot, dusty tin,” he pointed at an armored personnel carrier standing nearby. “You think I want this?” He was a perfectly normal Soviet young man, but I must say that I never met another one like him in occupied Czechoslovakia.

Then we found ourselves not far from Old Town Square. There, too, there was an APC at the intersection, and from its front hatch a frightened soldier was looking out to the shouts of Prague residents: “Well, what are you doing here?” It was clear that he didn't understand the question, so I quickly translated it for him. He must have remembered his last political training and stamped out: “I’m fulfilling my international duty!” I translated his answer to my fellow citizens, and they laughed merrily. And the soldier was left in complete shock.

Unfortunately, this is our “tradition”: 1968 was exactly the same as thirty years earlier, after the Munich agreement. At the same time, there were plenty of examples of passive resistance: from the very first days of the invasion, the slogan appeared: “Not a drop of water to the invaders!”, residents painted over the names of city streets, and road signs were turned in the opposite direction. This is something the “Nation of Schweik” does not need to be taught.

The local population did not put up armed resistance to the invaders — unfortunately, this is our “tradition”

The Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University, where I studied, was one of the ideological strongholds of the Prague Spring. After the occupation began, prominent progressive politicians and popular cultural figures came to visit us all the time. Incidentally, my classmate was Jan Palach, but I first heard about him only after his self-immolation <in January 1969, Palach set himself on fire in Wenceslas Square in protest against the Soviet occupation - The Insider>. The student strike lasted almost until the end of the year. But, unfortunately, it all came to naught by early next year.

Even my parents, who were staunch communists, reacted very negatively to the invasion. My father belonged to the highest echelons of power: first he was Minister of Foreign Trade, then Minister of Finance, Ambassador to the USSR, and, in 1968, Czechoslovakian Ambassador to India. He had served the Soviet regime faithfully for many years, understood what it was all about, and expected that this would be the end of the Prague Spring: Brezhnev and his comrades did not want to wait for a second Budapest.

My attitude toward Russians and the Soviet Union changed dramatically! What's more, even my Russophilia was noticeably diminished. In Czechoslovakia, of course, there were people who never liked the Russian people and the whole Soviet circus, but there was also quite a large segment of people who liked the Russians. But over the course of a single night, all that went away and never came back. The wariness intensified in the 1990s, when families of new Russians came to the Czech Republic. And there's no telling what impact the wars had on the perception of Russia - not just the war in Ukraine, but also the Afghan, Chechen, Georgian, and Syrian wars.

Prague, 1968
Prague, 1968

Russians keep coming to places where they are not invited, and that is very unfortunate. But this does not change my personal attitude towards Russia, its people and even less towards Russian culture. The way the Russian authorities behave has been familiar to me for a long time, and I do not associate it with my Russian friends who understand everything. Russia is an aggressor, and it doesn't matter who’s at the head: a tsar, a general secretary or a president. It is historically built that way, and it will be very difficult for it to get rid of this curse.

Afghanistan, 1979-1989: “Slaughtering, shooting and burying them while still alive”

Pretext for military intervention: “international assistance to the friendly Afghan people” to repel external aggression.

Casualties: during the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, about 1 million civilians were killed, many as a result of extrajudicial executions and massacres in the countryside; more than 5 million became refugees; non-recoverable losses on the Soviet side amounted to 15,000 according to official data.

Moqim Rahmanzai, teacher (now living in the United States)

I left Afghanistan in summer of 1976 for New York. I was on a UNESCO scholarship to study and earn my PhD in Educational Policy Programs. I was working at the Teacher Education Department and was one of two lucky ones, who had been selected to use the UNESCO scholarship. During my studies the first Soviet engineered coup took place. I knew some of the people in the government and decided to return to Afghanistan in 1978. Not only was I not hired for the job I was trained for, but I was not allowed to teach the graduate students in the Academy for Teacher Educators. The policy was that you were only allowed to do it if you were a member of the People's democratic party or studied in the Soviet Union or spoke Russian, and so I was not qualified.

The Soviet troops came to Afghanistan after a propaganda built-up that the Americans were supporting the Mujahideen and our Soviet friends were here to support us against imperialist enemies. It was a cloudy fall/winter day, one could see lots of transport planes flying to Kabul. That evening a few gunshots were heard around Darul Aman (President Hafizullah Amin’s residence), but no public knowledge or media reports of what was going on. The next morning Babrak Karmal, the hand-picked president, spoke claiming Hafizullah Amin had been killed and he was the new president of Afghanistan. As we woke up the next morning, major squares in Kabul were taken by Russian soldiers and Kabul and other major cities were under the control of the Soviet and Afghan government. There was propaganda on the radio: loud patriotic music was playing. Behind the scenes lots of people were killed or imprisoned.

Withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan
Withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan

Stories of Russian soldiers attacking villages, killing farmers, raping women were heard daily. I will describe the one that happened in my village, in the Logar province, 20 miles south of Kabul. The Soviet military had to provide military hardware and other support for their bases in the south and had to use the Kabul-Paktia highway. The convoy would travel regularly through this highway and the freedom fighters knew their route and were aware of the travel time, so they would hide and as the convoy would approached, they would attack from various points killing soldiers and destroying tanks. The number of attacked and destroyed tanks on this highway was visible for a number of years. The death and destruction made the Soviets vicious and on one occasion, the Soviet military convoy walked into a village and killed 12 men in the most inhumane fashion: slaughtering, killing them with a knife, shooting them and burying them while still alive and breathing. There were similar or worse atrocities in other provinces of Afghanistan.

The Soviet military convoy once killed 12 men in the most inhumane fashion: slaughtering, shooting and burying them while still alive

The invaders I came in contact with were Russian civilians who worked in the Ministry of Education as advisors. Not very smart, totally lost and with no idea of what was going on. Some of them were from Central Asian republics and could speak Farsi, but still they were not easy to talk to. They were brainwashed, they acted like cold war ambassadors by badmouthing the US and the West for supporting the resistance. They would borrow my American published books, and beg for more, but would still badmouth the Afghan education system that had been supported by the US Agency for International Development and it was the best in the region.

<After the war> I worked as Regional Training Director in Almaty Kazakhstan. I was walking in the park with a Russian colleague. He pointed to a monument and said: this young man died in Afghanistan, and after a few minutes he would point to the next name and so on. He was trying to blame Afghans for the soldiers' deaths. I was very upset and told him, let's discuss cause and effect. Had he and those dead soldiers not invaded Afghanistan, they would not have been lying dead here.

I follow the invasion of Ukraine by the Russians and see similar killings, destruction, bombardment and scaring tactics. Years of my life, and the life of my family, friends and fellow countrymen having been affected in a bad way, I am of the opinion that all this happens because of an individual’s ego.

Georgia, 2008: “They looted everything they could carry”

Pretext for military intervention: conducting an “operation to enforce peace in Georgia” in response to its “aggression against South Ossetian civilians and Russian peacekeepers.”

Casualties: The Georgian side claimed 170 servicemen, 14 policemen and 228 civilians killed in the conflict, the Russian side claimed 67 servicemen killed; South Ossetia claimed 365 people were killed, probably both military and civilians.

Temur Kiguradze, journalist

In the summer of 2008, I was a young journalist who had just started working for an English-language daily newspaper in Tbilisi. I spent the night of August 7-8, when the fighting began, huddled in front of the TV, and rushed to the editorial office early in the morning. Everyone understood that the situation was difficult, but no one was prepared for a full-scale war and occupation. In the morning a car stopped outside our editorial office with two of my colleagues from other publications - Sasha Klimchuk and Giga Chihladze. The guys were going in the direction of Tskhinvali. They said they had two empty seats and asked if I wanted to join them. I agreed of course. My American editor went there with me.

It was chaotic, it was unclear where everyone was coming from. Somehow we made it to South Ossetia, where we could already see signs of fighting. When we got to Tskhinvali, we got out of the car and started filming. We were in civilian clothes, with our journalist badges and cameras. Suddenly, armed people appeared in the distance, and one of us said he saw one of them holding an American M4 rifle which was used by the Georgian army, so it must have been the Georgian military. With a welcoming wave of his hand, he shouted to them in Georgian: “Guys, we are here.” In reply, we heard curses in Russian and shots into the air. We turned around and ran towards the car hearing and a burst of automatic rifle fire from behind. At some point Giga and Sasha, who were running ahead of me, fell down - and I had a strange thought they decided to play dead. As I found out later, the bullets hit them right in the heart and they died there on the road. A bullet hit me in the right arm, my American colleague was wounded in the leg. We were both beaten up and told we were Georgian spies. The soldiers threatened to shoot us. That's how I ended up as a prisoner of war with the Ossetian militia.

We were both beaten up and told we were Georgian spies

We were brought to a garage of the OSCE observation mission that had already left the city and questioned for a long time. At some point they changed their mind about shooting us: Sasha Klimchuk had a press card from RIA Novosti, where he worked (it was a slightly different news agency back then than it is today), and this worked in our favor. We spent three days in the basement of a dilapidated Tskhinvali hospital, where there were both military and civilian patients. The Ossetian doctors - and I am still grateful to them - protected us in every way possible, and through them we managed to contact our relatives and the American Embassy. I had no information about what was going on. The Ossetians told me that almost all of Georgia was already under Russian control and the storming of Tbilisi was about to begin. I did not know whether to believe this. It was clear that this was a huge disaster for the whole country, but its scale and consequences were difficult to assess at the time.

Then Russian journalists showed up, including Orkhan Djemal. He was the only one interested in us, and, as far as I understand, it was through Orkhan that everybody learned we had survived, so we couldn't just disappear. The next morning they put us in an ambulance and took us towards Russia.

That's how we ended up in Vladikavkaz. My colleague was in need of urgent surgery, and I was taken to a police station, as they said, for my own safety. I spent the next few days there. First, I was interrogated by FSB officers, and then a Vesti camera crew came to interview me. They asked a few questions, and then they turned off the camera and said: “Well, he's got his version of the war, and we've got ours.” I saw myself on TV in the office of the police department chief: in the story I just stood there and opened my mouth while the voice-over was saying that a citizen of Georgia and an American citizen were detained with video cameras and were suspected of espionage.

Russian military in Georgia, 2008
Russian military in Georgia, 2008

Nobody knew what to do with me. In the end, thanks to what remained of the Georgian consulate in Vladikavkaz I got a Russian visa, my friends lent me money, and I was escorted by the police to Mineralnye Vody, from where I flew to Yerevan.

On the way to Vladikavkaz, we saw a huge convoy of Russian troops. We passed through burnt-out Georgian villages, where people in military uniforms were looting stores and loading the loot onto trucks. A few weeks after my return to Georgia, I returned with an NGO to the South Ossetian border, to the villages just abandoned by the Russian troops. Their residents told me that as soon as the Russians had entered Georgian territory, the captured Georgian villages were given to the Ossetian militia for pillaging. They looted everything they could carry. They were given one day to do this, and the next day the Russians entered the same villages and played the role of liberators – they drove Ossetian gangs away, brought in water tankers. In short, it was a game of bad cop and good cop. Many locals did think the Ossetians were bad and the Russians had come to help. However, in the following months, when the situation along the occupation line became much worse, their opinion changed dramatically.

Many locals did think the Ossetians were bad and the Russians had come to help

Several hundred volunteers from Georgia are now fighting in Ukraine, including some of the people I know. Some of them are former soldiers and officers of the Georgian army who fought in South Ossetia, others are very young guys. People I know are proud of them, because we believe that the war in Ukraine is our common war against the big colonial empire, which has left its mark everywhere outside its borders. We remember well how the Ukrainians helped us in 2008 and in the 1990s, during the first war in Abkhazia. In general, the attitude of ordinary Georgian citizens is very different from that of the authorities, which is something I am ashamed of. Georgian society is completely on the side of Ukraine; Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi are completely covered in Ukrainian flags. Yet the Georgian government has officially chosen a “Hungarian course,” trying to somehow maintain relations with Russia. And this is very strange, considering that Georgia has no diplomatic relations with Russia.

Syria, 2015 – present: “Residential neighborhoods were bombed with barbaric brutality”

Pretext for military intervention: air support for Syrian government forces in their fight against ISIS.

Casualties: According to the annual report of The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), about 7,000 civilians have been killed directly by the Russian armed forces in Syria since 2015, including over 2,000 children; over 1,200 attacks have been carried out on civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and markets.

Feras Al Said, civil activist, member of The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR):

Like anyone else’s life back then, my life was just involved with surviving. The city my family and I were living in, Talbisah (Talbise), 12 km north of Homs province, was under the control of the Free Syrian Army and was under brutal bombardment by Assad forces that were strictly besieging the area. We were not allowed to go out of the area or to flee away. It was like a vast prison where everyone had a suspended death sentence. Back there, being alive was a matter of unexplainable chance.

On the 30th of September 2015, the Russian government announced its military campaign in Syria. The Russian air forces launched one of their first attacks on Talbisah city. Between 9:30 and 10:00 am I was riding my motorcycle back home. I stopped to get my tire fixed in a repair shop in the middle of the city, near to post office - it was being used by the local Civilian authority back then to manage the bread crisis, as the city was facing due to the siege by Assad forces. Some guys were speaking about weird warplanes which were monitored by the monitoring devices (the opposition in Syria used to use to wireless monitoring devices tracking Assad forces and air forces movement).

It was said that the Russian language was spoken by the pilots of these new jets that hit a village near Idlib that morning. Me, I was a little bit worried about that, but it was very calm day, shining sun, and I didn’t even think that we would be the next during the next few minutes. I got the tire done and returned home to take my daughter, Layal, on a ride. I got home, took Laya, and headed to the same place I was a few minutes before, where my wife’s family lives, about 100 meters east of the post office. As I got to the corner of the post office, I heard a horrific sound, two explosions and the sound of warplanes at the same time. I boosted my speed to the east. I was aware of the necessity to be as far as possible from big buildings that were always targeted by artillery and warplanes. As I got within 50 meters of the post office, I heard the explosions immediately behind me. The pressure of the explosion pushed the motorcycle further forward, and I felt like the explosions were pulling out the air around me. My main concern then was to protect my daughter from falling down, as she was not even one year old, she was sitting in front of me, in my lap, and I was riding so fast. It took about less than 20 seconds to get to my wife’s family house. I got off the motorcycle and handed Layal to my wife’s parents, heading directly to the post office building. I had my camera then as I was a member of the city media center. I started filming as I reached the partially destroyed building.

Idlib, 2021
Idlib, 2021

It was a three-story building, of very heavy construction and thick walls. Nonetheless it was severely harmed and parts of the roof fell in. I got inside, following people and the cries of others asking for help. Dozens of people were buried under the rubble. I have seen about five injured being pulled out by the people and the white helmet rescue team. The place was a mess, and the smell of blood and dust filled the area. It seemed to me that it was the end of the world, it was the most horrible thing I have ever seen and experienced. I was thinking then if the same warplanes came back and targeted the city again, no one would stay alive. Being shocked by the whole thing, I saw one of my friends who was working with us at the media center, and it was as if this was my first experience to see someone I knew. I was shocked; I lost my memory for a second, forgetting who I was and where I was. His voice awakened me; he shouted at me that I should go to the hospital to document the name of the victims and post the news on social media.

When I got to the field hospital, blood was everywhere. Injured people were on the floor because the beds in the emergency room, as in every other room and corridor in the hospital, were full. I witnessed two little brothers dying due to their serious wounds. On that day, 23 civilians were killed, including at least five children. I realized then that the Russian jets had attacked the city with at least six missiles that were dropped on a 1 km stretch of land, and the last 2 of them were the ones that fell on the post office building.

The ruins of Aleppo
The ruins of Aleppo

The Russian intervention in Syria was the turning point of the events there. The brutality and barbaric ways the Russians used to attack the areas, especially the residential areas, made the people flee their homes, leaving everything they had. Attacking the crowded civilian areas was not random, it was on purpose. Targeting hospitals, markets, and vital facilities was an obvious technique used by the Russians to force any area out of their and Assad’s control back and accept their terms.

Targeting hospitals, markets, and vital facilities was an obvious technique used by the Russians to force any area out of their and Assad’s control back and accept their terms

As a government and political system, Russia behaves as if it is above any law. They are even proud of their actions in Syria. Many Russian politicians made statements about Syria becoming a land to test the Russian military arsenal, and the weapon targets were innocent Syrians.

The ruins of Homs
The ruins of Homs

I have been following the ongoing war in Ukraine since day one. What is happening now in Ukraine is typically the same as what we saw in Syria. Targeting civilians in a terroristic way, killing civilians in cold blood, besieging the cities, and targeting the vital facilities to cut the residents from basic amenities are a few examples of these parallels. We have to differentiate between the government and the people. It became apparent that the Russian people do not share the same views their government has about the Ukrainian war. However, unfortunately, we did not see such rejection when the Russian intervention started in Syria, or at least at the scale we have seen during the Ukrainian war.

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