Today in the Western Syrian Province of Latakia, a Russian military transport plane, the An-26, somehow came 550 yards short of a runway at the Khmiemim Air Base, according to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, killing all 33 passengers and 6 crew members. All the fatalities were members of the Russian Armed Forces. What caused the plane to fall short of its mark is uncertain.
Russian State Television reported that it was not “brought down by enemy fire” according to a Reuters Report. It is plausible that an equipment malfunction was the cause of the crash but it is just as plausible that a shoulder fired weapon, or MANPAD, was used to target the Russian plane. Typically Russia is very hush-hush about their casualties in Syria since their armed intervention in 2015. Putin even signed an order allowing the military to forgo reporting troop casualties.
So, it was rare to see a full list of names and ranks of all killed reported so quickly. Here’s the complete list:
6 Majors (Kukushkin, Maunev, Mikryukov, Morozov, Smirnov, Chagin),
6 Captains (Gaidarkhanov, Gorban, Pylenok, Rasputin, Trufanov, Sheinzivt),
5 Senior lieutenants (Altunin, Levchuk, Panov, Safronov, Shevchenko)
3 Senior sergeants (Bogatyrev, Epifanov, Lushkov),
1 Junior sergeants (Belov and Chapdarov),
2 Sergeants (Osipkin, Serezhenkov),
2 Kaperanga (Moiseev, Sachuk),
1 Corporal (Kolomoytsev),
1 Ensign (Grigoriev),
1 Senior warrant officer (Grabovsky),
1 Colonel (Fedun),
1 Major-General (Eremeev)
It was also reported that the head of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov was on the military base at the scene of the crash but was not on board the aircraft. Why he was there at all still remains a question.
Глава Генштаба России Валерий Герасимов находится на военной базе Хмеймим, рассказали источники, однако уточнили, что на борту потерпевшего крушение Ан-26 его не было. С какой целью Герасимов прибыл в Сирию, собеседники не уточнилиhttps://t.co/uXuZB6YETL
Фото: ТАСС pic.twitter.com/MOGEKo30I1
— РБК (@ru_rbc) March 6, 2018
Nothing is as it seems in Syria especially when it comes to Russia. It’s all kinds of games and deflection. The true numbers of how many Russians have been killed in Syria is murky at best. Moscow has a lot of motivation to appear in control of the situation but as time goes on it’s clear they have over sold their capabilities as providers of stability.