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Cruelty is the Russian way

Alexander Dvornikov being honoured for his “bloody handiwork” in Syria

“Russia has found just the man to lead its ongoing assault on Ukraine,” says Rich Lowry in the New York Post. Alexander Dvornikov, the top-level general now in charge of the campaign, is known as the “Butcher of Syria” for his role leading Russian troops there. He notoriously oversaw the “reduction” of Aleppo into what one UN official described in 2016 as a “slaughterhouse”. Children were trapped under streets of rubble; pregnant women were deliberately bombed. To reward this “bloody handiwork”, Dvornikov was officially honoured as a “hero of the Russian Federation”.

The sad truth is that this is no anomaly – “where the Russian military goes, war crimes are sure to follow”. Lenin practised “mass terror”. The civil war after the Russian Revolution was basically a “series of atrocities”. Then came the “unspeakable violence” in the Second World War: the Red Army’s march to Berlin, during which Russian soldiers raped two million German women, was “one long, pitiless war crime”. Of course, the West has had “its share of shameful and brutal acts”. But whereas we look back on these with regret, Vladimir Putin is still, today, adding more blots to his country’s “woeful record”. It’s a reflection of a “twisted Russian political culture” – one that has never “developed an appreciation for individual worth”. Of course, “war is hell”, but almost every other advanced country tries to “keep it within some bounds of decency”. Not the Russians. For them, “the cruelty is the point”.