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Putin’s Islamic Mercenaries

Syrian 'volunteers' in Russia brought in to fight Ukrainians (Russian Defense Ministry video)

Well, if this isn’t the most hypocritical thing:

Vladimir Putin has given the green light for up to 16,000 volunteers from the Middle East to be deployed alongside Russian-backed rebels fighting in Ukraine, doubling down on an invasion that the west says has been losing momentum.

The move, just over two weeks after Putin ordered the invasion, allows Russia to deploy battle-hardened mercenaries from conflicts such as Syria without risking additional Russian military casualties.

At a meeting of Russia’s security council, the defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said there were 16,000 volunteers in the Middle East who were ready to fight alongside Russian-backed forces in the breakaway Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Putin said: “If you see that there are these people who want of their own accord, not for money, to come to help the people living in Donbas, then we need to give them what they want and help them get to the conflict zone.”

“Volunteers” my foot. Putin, the great protector of Orthodox civilization, is bringing in Islamic mercenaries to fight Orthodox Christians, joining his Chechen Islamist mercenaries in doing the same. I guess this is Assad paying back a debt.

How can ordinary Russians tolerate this? Ukrainian Christians being shot at and killed by Muslim mercenaries on behalf of the Great Orthodox Tsar Vladimir? Could there be any more vivid proof that all of Putin’s rhetoric over the years about the greatness of Russian Christian civilization, and positioning himself, with the help of the Russian Orthodox hierarchy, as its defender — all of it was a phony cover story for raw power.

I wonder how Patriarch Kyrill feels about this. I wonder how he can live with himself knowing that his fellow Christians, Orthodox and Catholic both, will be murdered, and Christian women possibly raped, by Muslim mercenaries in the pay of his patron Vladimir Putin. How can he possibly remain silent? Unless, of course, all of his Christian preaching and teaching was just a cover for the acquisition and maintenance of power too?

UPDATE: Something I see from the comments that some of you don’t get. If Putin had presented himself as a secular leader only, this would have been hardly worth commenting on. He didn’t; part of his self-created cult of personality has been presenting himself as an arch-defender of Orthodox Christianity, especially in the face of the woke West. What’s more, Islam and Christianity are each other’s historical great enemies. Orthodox people suffered badly for centuries under the Islamic yoke. It is very hard to take when he hires Muslims to fight for him against other Christians whom he considers to be part of the Russian nation. Again, if he had been simply an ordinary secular leader, this wouldn’t have merited commentary. But he has depended on the Russian Orthodox Church and its pageantry to consecrate his rule. And now this.

(BTW, I don’t think these Muslims are ISIS. I think they are part of the Assad coalition that fought ISIS alongside the Russians.)

And, yes, the Ukrainians killed by these mercenaries will be just as dead as if they were shot by Russians. My comment is not really about them, but about Putin and the suicide of his reputation as a defender of Christianity.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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