Although Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that he is sending troops to Syria, selfies taken by Russian soldiers and posted on social media are telling a different story.
Russian investigative journalist Ruslan Leviev reports that an increasing number of experienced Russian troops have been deployed to a naval maintenance facility in Tartus, along Syria’s Mediterranean coast. His source? Status updates and photos posted on Russia’s two biggest social networking sites by members of the 810th marine brigade, an infantry force in the Russian navy.
One photo Leviev found is of a career soldier named Mazhnikov, who appears to be at the naval facility in Syria. Another soldier, Anatoly Golota, also a member of the 810th brigade, updated his status on the Russian version of Facebook with the words, “Off to Syria :)).”
Russia has not denied that it’s been supplying weapons to the Syrian government and helping train the Syrian military. But Putin knows that combat troops are a different story.
The naval maintenance facility at Tartus is small, and in the past has been manned by just a handful of personnel. Leviev reports that the number of troops stationed at the facility is growing, and the troops are experienced contract soldiers, not draftees.
Videos uploaded to social media sites have raised concerns that Russian troops might be involved in combat inside Syria, according to an article in Foreign Policy. However, beyond the footage, which shows a Russian-made BTR-82A armored vehicle firing its gun in Syria, no other substantial evidence of active combat involving Russian troops has been found.
While the marines may or may not be directly involved in the fighting, the presence of Russian troops in Syria shows how hard Putin is pressing for a victory by the Assad regime. Now if he can just teach his soldiers how to avoid giving themselves away on social media.
Top Reads From The Fiscal Times
- Putin’s Economy May Be in Even Worse Shape Than It Looks
- China Sends a Message with Its New ‘Carrier Killer Missile
- In Showing Off Physical Strength, Putin Tries to Hide Political Weaknesses
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”
The leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have all proposed increasing taxes on corporations, including raising income tax rates to levels ranging from 25% to 35%, up from the current 21% imposed by the Republican tax cuts in 2017. With Bernie Sanders leading the way at $3.9 trillion, here’s how much revenue the higher proposed corporate taxes, along with additional proposed surtaxes and reduced tax breaks, would generate over a decade, according to calculations by the right-leaning Tax Foundation, highlighted Wednesday by Bloomberg News.
The federal government’s total non-defense discretionary spending – which covers everything from education and national parks to veterans’ medical care and low-income housing assistance – equals 3.2% of GDP in 2020, near historic lows going back to 1962, according to an analysis this week from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.