Russia Weaponizes Syrian Refugees: NATO

Russia is worsening the refugee crisis out of Syria in order to break Europe’s political will.

General Philip M. Breedlove, NATO's supreme allied commander, speaks with colleagues at the North Atlantic Council in Brussels, February 10, 2016
General Philip M. Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander, speaks with colleagues at the North Atlantic Council in Brussels, February 10, 2016 (NATO)

NATO’s top military commander on Tuesday accused Russia and its vassal in Syria of “weaponizing” refugees in an attempt to break Europe’s political will.

General Philip Breedlove, the West’s supreme allied commander, told senators in Washington DC that he could think of no reason for the deliberate targeting of civilians in Syria “other than to cause refugees to be on the move and make them someone else’s problem.”

“I use the term weaponization of immigration,” he said.

The barrel bombs used by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which Russia protects, have no “military utility,” Breedlove pointed out, and are “designed to terrorize, get people out of their homes and get them on the road.”

He also criticized Russia’s use of “non-precision” weapons in the airstrikes it has itself conducted in Syria.


Russian warplanes started bombing in Syria in September when Assad’s loyalists had suffered a series of losses to the Arab- and Western-backed opposition.

The Atlantic Sentinel speculated at the time that one of the reasons Russia intervened might have been to accelerate the refugee flow and put pressure on its European rivals.

Breedlove’s testimony on Tuesday bears out that suspicion.

Russian designs

One in two Syrians have been displaced by the fighting. Millions of refugees and migrants, from Syria and elsewhere, have sought asylum in the countries of the European Union, overwhelming the bloc — as well as dividing it and distracting its attention away from the situation in Ukraine.

All of which suits Russia.

The country has been locked in a standoff with the West since it invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

European countries and the United States imposed sanctions that have conspired with low oil prices to push Russia’s economy into recession.

Russia is believed to seek a grand bargain under which it would curtail the refugee flow into Europe in exchange for relief from sanctions.

Short of that, worsening the migrant crisis helps fuel support for nationalist parties in Europe, like France’s Front national, which tend to be sympathetic to Russia.


  1. General Breedlove IS RIGHT. Russia under its fascist dictator Vladimir Putin is manipulating this humanitarian tragedy to further his cynical geopolitical agenda of breaking up the EU in order to attempt to reestablish a Russian “Sphere of influence” in Eastern Europe.

    Divide and conquer. This has always been a favorite tactic of the Kremlin. They tried it big time during the early 1980,s using political front organizations in the west. Taking advantage of our open societies which they consider a weakness to promote “Peace” or more accurately, the Russian version of peace. The Idea is to separate Europe from the United States by

    1. Try to foster, agitate, and promote isolationism which they know is still a wide-spread sentiment in the US

    2. Try to promote resentment of European against American and vice versa

    3. Their strategic priority is to try to dismember the EU. They are attempting to do this by funding far-right wing fascist groups like the National Front in France and Far-Left groups playing both sides of the “Lunatic fringe” political spectrum trying to squeeze the middle. By doing this Putin believes that he can then reestablish a Russian “Sphere of influence” in Europe and by extension weaken NATO. .

    4. Utilize a Propaganda barrage by all available means of mass communication as is evident by the presence of these paid Russian trolls to promote the Kremlin line, degrade NATO and, of course the United States and attempt through propaganda, disinformation, innuendo, manufactured conspiracy theories, exploitation of any event that paint’s the United States in a negative light to weaken and sow the seeds of fear and disunity in the targeted countries.

    They will fail at all this just as they did during the last Cold war because they are using the same tactics that they used at that time the only difference is that they have brought these tactics forward into the 21st century using the Internet, social media and global satellite telecommunications. They will fail because at the very core of all of this is a Rotten, Corrupt and Evil man named Vladimir Putin and now we all know it.

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