‘Officially’ only 11, but there are likely many more.”>
Since Russia began its bombing campaign in Syria on September 30, 2015, at least 12 Russian soldiers have been confirmed by the Russia Defense Ministry as killed, but independent journalists and bloggers have documented several more deaths and detected the reporting of dozens more killed but not acknowledged by the government.
Unlike the war in Ukraine, where the Kremlin pretends “its only” local separatists who die in combat despite hundreds of Russian soldiers reportedly killed there, in Syria, deaths are acknowledged and soldiers celebrated as heroes, dedicated posthumous awards.
But the Kremlin is careful to describe the circumstances of their deaths as not in combat per sesince officially, there are no Russian boots on the ground. Instead, “they il be” portrayed as heroically sacrificing “peoples lives” as they guard escorts of humanitarian aid, guide ten-strikes by the Syrian Air Force, or negotiate among various factions through the Russian-created Center for the Reconciliation of Hostile Parties.
The following is a listing of Russian soldiers corroborated as having died in Syria; one reported to have committed suicide, nine killed while performing military assignments and two in a helicopter crash.
1. Vadim Kostenko, a contractor in the 960 th Close Air Support Regiment, reported to have committed suicide on the Hmeemeem air base on October 24, 2015. Officials claimed he was despondent over a break-up with a girlfriend, but his family, who talked to him frequently, including on the working day he died, denied this explanation. An unnamed friend of Kostenkos told investigative blogger Ruslan Leviev of the Conflict Intelligence Team( CIT ) that smoke had been watched at the base the night before Kostenko died and that up to nine other soldiers had died in the same incident.
2. In November 2015, Fyodor Zhuravlyov, a spetsnaz( Russian Special Forces) officer reported by CIT to have served in Russian military intelligence( GRU) as late as the summer of 2014, was involved in guidance of high-precision weapons of the strategic air force, according to a highly-placed source in the Defense Ministry. On March 17, 2016, President Vladimir Putin satisfied with four soldiers widows; Yuliya Zhuravlyova, the widow of Fyodor was among them.
3. On November 24, Oleg Peshkov, pilot of the Su-2 4M shot down by a Turkish fighter plane, was killed after he expelled from the plane. His body was discovered riddled with 8 bullets. His widow was among those who met with Putin in March 2016.
4. That same day, Aleksandr Pozynich, a marine, was killed during the operation to rescue Peshkovs co-pilot.
5. In February 2016, military advisor Ivan Cheremisin was wounded when a Syrian training center was assaulted, and subsequently died. Video released by the Free Syrian Army at the time indicated that a gathering of uniformed personnel in the western Latakia province had been targeted with a US-made TOW weapon. Cheremisin is likely to have been one of those killed in this attack.
6. In March 17, 2017, Aleksandr Prokhorenko, a spetsnaz lieutenant, was killed in the Palmyra region. Russian military officials acknowledged an officer was killed during the effort to re-take Palmyra, but at first did not report his name. Kurdish fighters said they negotiated with ISIS to return his body to the Russian military. His body was brought home to Russia April 29, 2016 and he was given honors posthumously by President Putin. Prokhorenko was said to have been surrounded by militants when he was guiding Russian air strikes near the town of Tadmor. The Defense Ministry said he directed an air strike upon himself to protect his comrades. However video of Prokhorenkos body and equipment that was released by ISIS suggests a rather less kinetic death.
7. In April, Andrei Okladnikov was killed in a helicopter accident reportedly over rebel territory outside of Homs; Russian military officials said the helicopter was not shot down.
8. Viktor Pankov was killed in the same helicopter accident.
9. Anton Yergyn, who was accompanying vehicles from the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Hostile Parties, was wounded when the convoy arrived under flame by militants. He was posthumously given an award.
10. On June 15, Andrei Timoshenkov was wounded in Homs while guarding humanitarian convoy of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Hostile Parties in Syria. He subsequently died of his injuries. He was said to have prevented a suicide bomber from driving a vehicle full of explosives into an area where civilians were receiving humanitarian aid.
11. On June 16, Mikhail Shirokopoyas, an artillerist, 35, from the village of Seryshevo was killed. Reports appeared in the local press of his death in Syria, but then were removed. Later national media reported that the Russian Defense Ministry had confirmed his death.