A chilling video from Syria surfaced this week, showing Russian nationals torturing a prisoner with a sledgehammer.

I say nationals because while we clearly hear them speak Russian, it is unclear if they are members of the Russian armed forces or members of a Russian PMC known as Wagner.  That would make a small difference though, since Wagner is very tight with the Russian state, their only reason of existence is to provide the Russians with deniability.

A severed head can be seen in the video right next to the prisoner.



Personally the video infuriates me. Yes, we are talking about a member of the Daesh getting the business end of that sledgehammer, and who cares about these guys, right?

The problem, however, is that although the enemy is barbaric, we must not get to their level. What is depicted in the video is not the behavior of soldiers, it is the behavior of criminals.  It is a behavior devoid of military honor and professionalism, it is sadism for sadism’s sake.

There is a history of such behaviors in Russia. The book drawings from the Gulag of Danzig Baldaev, a guard in the Russian penal system, show that brutality was the norm and what the “enemies of the state” faced daily.