Putin’s Mistake

Kayla Lien, Opinion Writer

Vladimir Putin is helping Syrian government fight back at the anti-government rebels, currently based in one of the largest cities in the country. He is making a grave mistake by bombing the city of Aleppo.

East Aleppo is held by rebels of the government, composed of mostly the Free Syrian Army, otherwise called the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). These rebels want their President, Bashar al-Assad, to be impeached. This is due to the fact that their leader is a dictator, and that Syria’s economy is in shatters as a result of his ruling. The Syrian government has had tight ties with Russia for more than four decades, and al-Assad has the support of Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin. “Support” means that Putin is bombing Aleppo, notwithstanding the civilians trapped in the city.

Two hospitals, code-named M10 and M2 for security reasons, were hit on Wednesday, September 28. The air raids killed at least 13 people, and trapped many more beneath the rubble. M10 was one of Aleppo’s largest hospitals, and it has been bombed to dust. Most of M10’s intensive care and emergency rooms were placed underground so that the earlier bombs wouldn’t be able to do damage to them, but on October 3rd, it was hit with a “bunker-buster” bomb. These bombs are made to be able to dig into the ground, originally for getting at military bunkers buried below the surface, hence the name. Another underground hospital was hit by a bunker-buster bomb in the early hours of October 4th. There are only about 30 doctors left in eastern Aleppo for the population of 250,000 – 100,000 of which being children. Both hospitals were directly targeted, and Russia is now bombing places such as schools, markets, and places of worship. A recent study from August 19th says that Russia has killed more civilians in Syria than ISIS has.

Why are the raids targeting civilians and aid workers, even though that is a war crime by the international rules of war? Russia seems to be not only helping Syria, but proving a point. It’s as if Russia’s blaring a warning sign, showing the world how far it will go to help out its allies, although the main point is still in turning Aleppo to dust in order to “clean” the city, as Assad vows.

By targeting resources, Putin and Assad believe that it make the rebels stop fighting and flee the country. They’re cutting the city off from the things it needs to survive, such as medical aid, electricity, water, and food.

Putin is making a large mistake and it will haunt Russia for years to come. Currently, Russia’s economy is in a recession, and what with all of the bombings happening, Putin is going to destroy Russia’s economy the same way al-Assad did. These airstrikes are costing Moscow up to $5-7.5 million per day, starting on September 30th of 2015. If we continue on consistently from that point up until October 31, 2016, Russia will have spent $2-3 trillion on a war that may not be in their favor. They have the possibility to “win” Aleppo, but they sure will lose the UN and the UN’s trust. Already some government members in the United Nations Council are pointing fingers.

The United Nations Security Council met on October 8th about the situation in Aleppo. France called for an end to the military offensive from Russia, and 11 out of the 15 council members voted in favor of that notion. While it only takes 9 votes, the resolution was not passed. Why? Because Russia vetoed the resolution, and in order for it to go through, there had to be no vetoes from the veto powers. With that, tensions rose as well as anger.

If Putin continues on in this “barbaric” way (as Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, puts it), Russia will pay dearly. Both literally and figuratively.

Aleppo’s most beautiful places are now vast wastelands of rubble and grime, for as far as the eye can see. What once looked to be a beautiful marketplace full of color and beauty is now a passageway for the military and the rebels alike. The famous Citadel of Aleppo is now only a mess of bricks and dust, its magnificence living only in the photographs.

When will this bloodshed and destruction stop? Are we really expected to not do anything? Why hasn’t the world gotten involved? America is to sit by and watch it all unfold, as if this country was a pouting child, not allowed to join in on the party. For if the U.S. gets involved, Russia will shoot down our jets if we launch an air raid on Assad.
Russia needs to wake up and realize that nothing gets fixed with violence. Yes, wars may be won and disputes calmed, but there will always be someone, at least one person, who doesn’t agree. This war on Aleppo will not be in Russia’s favor, even if the military ends up winning. The country is wasting money, time, and military force, and this violence will only lead to more violence. CNN’s Clarissa Ward said to the UN Security Council earlier this year, “There are no winners in Aleppo.” No war is ever truly won, and Aleppo is a perfect example of that.


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