President Ronald Reagan famously dubbed the Soviet Union “the Evil Empire,” and it was apt. The empire is gone now, but we should have kept the word “evil” in reserve for today’s Kremlin. For what other term suffices to describe a government that deliberately and relentlessly bombs innocent civilians, their hospitals, and reportedly a UN aid convoy in a premeditated effort to “cleanse” rebel-held Syrian territory of its inhabitants? What other term encompasses the aiding and abetting of a government that repeatedly uses chemical weapons and drops barrel bombs full of chlorine on women and children? This weekend Russia conspired to delay a UN Security Council resolution aimed at stopping the suffering and loss of innocent lives in Syria. Now it claims, cynically, it wants to enforce a humanitarian "pause" in the fighting in the besieged Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, when it should just stop the fighting altogether.
The Russian government has so far gotten away with its bloody air operations in coordination with the despicable Assad regime and Iran. Those operations have killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians across the country, including thousands in Aleppo alone last year, when the historic city and its people were reduced to pulverized rubble and bone. The assault on Aleppo was designed to chase the Syrian opposition forces to other areas, like the province of Idlib, which the Russians and Syrians also ruthlessly bombarded. They are now trying to finish the job in Eastern Ghouta, the last major rebel-held area near Damascus, and a place infamously hit in 2013 by chemical weapons. Last week over 500 civilians were killed there and another estimated 2,500 wounded.