MOSCOW- Recent photographs showing Russian soldiers assisting Kurdish fighters of the leftist “People’s Protection Units” in Northern Syria have become a cause for concern among the Russian military’s top brass. According to a source in the Russian Ministry of Defense, publicity surrounding the photos might reflect positively on the Russian armed forces, which have worked hard to cultivate an image of pure, unadulterated evil since 2014.
The concern over the threat of positive connotations may explain Moscow’s official denials of involvement. Speaking at a press briefing the day after the photos emerged on social media, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that Russia is not involved in helping the Kurds in the North Syrian Confederation.
“All this talk of the Russian military doing something positive or morally correct is nothing but nonsense from the typical sources,” Peskov told journalists.
“I can assure all of you that Russia and its Armed Forces are working their absolute hardest to fulfill their duty of spreading misery to the fullest extent of our reach,” he added.
State media has also hit back at the allegations, calling them “hypocritical,” pointing out that US forces are assisting the same Kurds, and listing numerous historical examples of when the United States’ armed forces acted as a force for good. Sunday news presenter Dmitry Kiselyov reminded his viewers that the US military had been instrumental in such positive historical developments as the abolition of slavery and the destruction of Nazi Germany. He too denied that Russia was deliberately helping the Kurdish movement, insisting that Russia would never support a democratic movement favoring local autonomy, self-administration, and radical women’s rights.
“It’s absurd,” Kiselyov told his viewers.
“Why would we, a nation with a highly centralized authoritarian bureaucracy bolstered by a fascist-inspired imperialist ideology want anything to do with these so-called ‘democratic confederalists,’ who insist that women are something other than breeding stock, entertainment, and a means for obtaining kompromat?”
Despite official denials, sources within the Ministry of Defense say that the command is taking the issue of its image very seriously and is looking for ways to compensate for its potential improvement.
“They’re frantically searching for ways to offset the potential improvement of their reputation,” said Gennady Borisov, a retired Soviet/Russian General who now works for a Moscow-based think tank dedicated to security issues.
“Any potentially positive action on the part of the Russian armed forces is a serious black mark on their image, so all options are on the table- stepping up the shelling of civilians in Ukraine, bombing hospitals in Syria- these are just two examples.”
Borisov said that the Ministry of Defense may even decide to take even stronger, proactive measures such as dropping napalm on a maternity ward in a relatively peaceful area of Syria or releasing a video of Russian soldiers crushing newborn kittens.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures, as they say. It might sound revolting, but it’s nowhere near as bad as having people all over the globe think that our armed forces were involved in something positive.”