Baku. 27 October. REPORT.AZ/ A 19-year-old Russian soldier died in Syria on Saturday, the first confirmed casualty among the estimated 2,000 Russian military personnel who have been conducting and supporting air strikes on Syrian rebels and terrorist groups since September 30.
Vadim Kostenko was killed in service and is due to be buried in his home village of Grechanaya Balka “soon”, said Conflict Intelligence Team, Report informs referring to the ft.com.
The man’s death is bound to test how Moscow explains losses to the public. Russian soldiers who died fighting in eastern Ukraine were buried in secret and their relatives pressured to keep silent as the government continued to deny its involvement there.
On Tuesday, Russian news agency Interfax quoted a defence ministry spokesperson as saying that the soldier had “taken his own life during rest after duty.” The ministry said according to Interfax that the incident was still being investigated, but preliminary information from text messages found on his cellphone indicated that he had disagreements with a girlfriend.
Moscow has handled its air strikes in Syria very differently, giving them huge coverage on state television and portraying them as a heroic fight against evil. But Russian leaders have said the campaign will take only a few months, and have ruled out the possibility of involving Russian soldiers in ground combat.