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
Democratic presidential candidates are proposing a variety of new taxes to pay for their preferred social programs. Bloomberg’s Laura Davison and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou took a look at how the top four candidates would fare under their own tax proposals.
“The fact is very little medical care is shoppable. We become good shoppers when we are repeat shoppers. If you buy a new car every three years, you can become an informed shopper. There is no way to become an informed shopper for your appendix. You only get your appendix out once.”
— David Newman, former director of the Health Care Cost Institute, quoted in an article Thursday by Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times. Levey says the “consumer revolution” in health care – in which patients shop around for the best prices, forcing doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical firms to compete with lower prices – hasn’t materialized, but the higher deductibles that were part of the effort are very much in effect. “High-deductible health insurance was supposed to make American patients into smart shoppers,” Levey writes. “Instead, they got stuck with medical bills they can't afford.”
The House Ways and Means Committee released a new analysis of drug prices in the U.S. compared to 11 other developed nations, and the results, though predictable, aren’t pretty. Here are the key findings from the report:
- The U.S. pays the most for drugs, though prices varied widely.
- U.S. drug prices were nearly four times higher than average prices compared to similar countries.
- U.S. consumers pay significantly more for drugs than other countries, even when accounting for rebates.
- The U.S. could save $49 billion annually on Medicare Part D alone by using average drug prices for comparator countries.
The U.S. ranks 18th for retiree well-being among developed nations, according to the latest Global Retirement Index from Natixis, the French corporate and investment bank. The U.S. fell two spots in the ranking this year, due in part to rising economic inequality and poor performance for life expectancy.