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(By Richard Edmondson)
Blood and human lives, in large amounts, were sacrificed in the retaking of Palmyra. According to one report, more than 180 soldiers with the Syrian Army and their allied forces were killed in the fighting. Doubtless among these are plenty of examples of courage and sacrifice, but one story seems to be emerging above all others–that of Aleksandr Prochorenko.
At just 25 years of age, Aleksandr, a Russian Special Operations officer, was sent into Palmyra in advance of the military drive to liberate the city. His job? To identify ISIS positions and to pass their coordinates along to command for purpose of airstrikes.
Russian soldiers in Syria are obviously well-trained. But perhaps even more important than that, they are highly motivated. Motivation is important, nay, crucial in war. And it only comes from knowing precisely what you are fighting and why. Russian soldiers know that in ISIS they are battling an evil and malevolent scourge of hideous proportions, this not only in terms of its rank and file recruits but also with regard to the world leaders backing this demonic, hoodlum army. The Russians are exposed to truth through their media, and they have confidence in their country’s leadership. Vladimir Putin’s approval rating in Russia is near 90 percent.
Thankfully for Russian soldiers, they don’t have to contend with any of this. When they are sent to war it is for reasons which are clearly and forthrightly articulated. And when they die it is in the interests primarily of their own country, or else humanity as a whole, rather than the narrow interests of a genocidal, apartheid state that finishes off moribund prisoners with a gunshot to the head as we saw occur in Israel last week.
And so a Russian hero, in the service of what is decent, went above and beyond the call of duty. And the world owes him its thanks. But instead, Western leaders couldn’t seem to bear even a simple statement acknowledging what he and his fellow combatants had achieved.