Russian PMC Fighters in Syria Are Unsung Heroes

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard




The purpose behind translating and ultimately disseminating the information presented below is to offer readers an objective and almost unemotional perspective on the use of proxy forces in fourth generation warfare. It is more than likely that Russia, like all countries involved in war in 2018, does use proxy forces in Syria, whether they be from actual security firms or some unofficial formation of elite forces. And of course, it is completely natural that the government in Moscow and its press service refrain from offering any snippets of information about such things.

The truth is that we, as observers of social and printed media, know less than 5% of what is really going on in theatres of military operations, and it is only those who are sat in the command room (and even still!) who possess enough facts to have an understanding that corresponds to reality. At the end of the day, the way in which war is waged today is more like a concentrated economic policy than the familiar-to-all signing of agreements in treaties (second generation warfare). It is precisely for this reason that the US uses sanctions against Russia and friends, because they themselves are now not able to physically push other nuclear States around. Sanctions are the same as invading a country and installing a puppet regime: it is a quicker and less resource consuming way of achieving the same thing – control over the functions of a State.

Finally, it should be made clear that certain publications in Russia (Kommersant *cough**cough*) have exploited the PMC topic since Russian jets first touched down in Syria back in 2015 in order to discredit Putin and to give momentum to the cyber fifth column brigade. Some PMC forces were killed? And? War is war. Any attempts to idealise it are sought with logical fallacies.

Acquaintances and strangers write to me. They ask questions about the death of PMC members in Syria. What do I think about it? The questions are sharp and very often angry. I want to answer to everyone at the same time.

I don’t know how many died. According to my information (and it can be inexact), 14 died and were wounded.

Why are the authorities silent? Because PMCs are being created exactly for this purpose, so that the authorities can be silent. This is how PMCs work worldwide. Did you hear about the losses of American or British PMCs in Syria? No? But they exist. And a decent amount, judging by indirect data. The losses of Academi/Blackwater just in Afghanistan (there are such calculations) total about 1400 people since 2001. According to other data, 1400 is the general losses of Academi in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria since 2001.

American private armies very often recruit natives of Latin America. Members of spec ops from Colombia, Bolivia, Chile. They are commanded by Americans – natives of Texas and Florida. At the very beginning of the 2000’s retired Chilean police officers from groups like our OMON came to Blackwater in large quantities. During the regime of Pinochet they, of course, did a lot of bad. It is exactly for this reason that they went to fight in Afghanistan. And Latin Americans are good fighters. If some will die — then who cares, they are not US citizens. And they don’t demand citizenship. As a result real losses aren’t known – I think it’s not even known by the orderers of Blackwater from the Pentagon.

It is strange to see how the same people in Russia earlier loudly shouted that war is not the business of a conscript soldier earlier, that it is professionals that should be fighting, and now they also shout: “What horror, we have PMCs, shame on this government!” Forgive me, but you seemingly wanted only pros to fight for us. The authorities, in fact, created PMCs at your request. No?

Why is the existence of PMCs hidden? Because they, generally, are created to hide their existence. This is a tool of proxy war. Once again, this same Blackwater: the first operation in 2001 in Kabul. Since 2003 they are in Iraq. So, back then even the American military definitely didn’t know who they are as such. I was told by American military servicemen in Baghdad that they are special troops or sub-divisions of the CIA. Even the US authorities didn’t confirm the death of Blackwater fighters in Fallujah. Do you remember this story? Four PMC fighters incidentally came to the city that was besieged by Americans, their car was shot by Iraqis, their bodies were burned and hanged out on a bridge.

Back then the American media reported about the deaths of military advisers. Only in 2007, after a massacre in Baghdad when fighters of Blackwater shot civilians on the Nisour square, did the Americans learn about their existence. Although rumours about PMCs wandered around in America.

During the second storm of the same Fallujah, Blackwater played a key role, having acted, in fact, as barrier troops, and then as the main forces of the breakthrough. But officially it was as if they weren’t here. Moreover, Blackwater, and nowadays Academi, officially isn’t considered as a private army in general. Officially it is a security firm. What’s behind this brand already became known to all long ago. In Kabul the Academi base is situated on the territory of the former Afghan army military unit from the times of the Soviet-Afghan war. There are warehouses, helipads, and a full infrastructure there. How many fighters of the American PMC are in Afghanistan isn’t officially known. Informally – from 8,000. In a personal meeting two years ago, Hamid Karzai told me that he understood only by 2005 that some of the American divisions operating in the country are not the army or intelligence agencies. They were simply private ones.

Moreover, the structure of PMCs in the US includes not only fighters. There are private sub-divisions of field reconnaissance. The firms that are engaged in supplying the army’s rear also belong to a PMC. In the US the staff of such military and contract rear and fighting organisations is called contractors. So in Iraq, at the peak phase of their occupation, there were 180,000 of their members there. The entire occupational corps of the US and allies totalled 160,000. And the authorities, press, and employees of the PMC themselves were silent about it. Because this is how America needed it to be.

And citizens who now cry out that, like, “shame on our government for keeping quiet about the death of ours in Syria”, simply don’t understand what algorithm the PMC works to and why they are being created.

But PMCs as a whole – is this good or bad? It’s neither here nor there. The British, French, Americans, and Chinese have PMCs. In the West quite often corporations solve their deeply commercial problems using private armies. On the other hand, it is precisely PMCs that are an important tool of proxy warfare. Yes, mercenaries aren’t a Russian tradition. Anglo-Saxons have more experience in this. For example, the army of the East India Company, in fact, was a PMC of that era. And the army of the East India Company carried out tasks far from just the capture of India. The captured Napoleon on Saint Helena Island was guarded precisely by soldiers of the company.

Today it would be stupid of us to refuse such a tool as PMCs. It is the same as if during the years of World War II we didn’t create, say, engineering-assault units of the Reserve of the Supreme High Command just because they didn’t exist before, and because the Red Army broke through the enemy defense without them.

So the answer to the question why the Americans struck our fighters is partly in this – exactly because the “third world war” is ongoing. It, of course, is a proxy one, but nevertheless. Syria is one of the fronts of the “third world war”. I think that the next ones will be Afghanistan and Central Asia. And it’s not only us and the Americans who are participating in it.

Are you aware, citizens, that French and English special forces are fighting in Syria? With the support of artillery, aviation, and intelligence. And so, sooner or later we had to face “western partners” in a direct fight. Four years ago the private Stratfor CIA company wrote in a report that the forces of the US are limited, and Washington should consider the events in Syria and Ukraine as a uniform battlefield. This Black Sea theater of military operations will press Russia from a southern direction. It’s nothing new. So in Syria we fight not for Assad, but for our future, for the right of our country to be. Not to be ourselves, but to simply be. To exist in the world.

And, as I wrote above, it would be much more difficult for us to carry out separate combat tasks in Syria and in the Middle East in general if we didn’t have PMCs, provided that our “partners” have them. And these “partners” aren’t ashamed to use private armies where they consider it as necessary. From Kabul to Colombia, from Mosul to the Congo.

Proceeding from the aforesaid, fighters of our PMC in Syria are Russian heroes. These are real heroes of the fight against terrorism and the war for the Russian future.

They are the same heroes as Prokhorenko, Filipov, Durachenko and Mikhaylova, as our pilots, seamen, and special operations forces.

PMC fighters, unfortunately, are heroes unknown and unsung (it is not my term – it’s the founder of Blackwater Erik Prince’s, who called his guys like this – “unsung heroes”). But we must understand that by their fight, by their daily feats PMC fighters grant to us the right to a peaceful life. We go to the cinema, we raise children, we go to work thanks to them – ordinary Russian guys, whose profession became war, and who every day sweep away this terrorist purulent phlegmon.

And when a certain “journalist” writes about “killed mercenaries”, know that this person differs little from propaganda scum from the ISIS “Al-Furqan” media center. This is the enemy who stabs our fighters in the back.

I, of course, read and hear reasoning along the lines that, like, they went to fight for money (that is absolutely false — many of them have another motivation); that the army is good, we can be proud of them, and not by PMC fighters; that they have no oath, no flag, and in general are somehow wrong.

However, I understand the situation as such: the [PMC – ed] person went to Syria, he participated in operations there, bandits from ISIS and “Al-Nusra” were his enemies, he destroyed them in battle. I.e., these ghouls won’t came to our home, and won’t stage terrorists attacks. After this (regardless of the motivation of the person) should we consider a fighter of a PMC as our defender or not? I think we should.

Once again: for me they are heroes. Their work is war, but their death is a tragedy. I don’t know if the State will forget them or not. But the Motherland shouldn’t forget them. And the Motherland is us. Don’t forget the fighters of the Russian PMC.

May the memory of men and soldiers be eternal.

Yulia Vityazeva: The Russian Fifth Column’s Hysterics About “Wagner Mercenaries” in Syria

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