Russia now has thousands of troops in Syria
Every Russian troop in Syria voted for Vladimir Putin in March 18, 2018's presidential election, NPR's Moscow Correspondent, Lucian Kim, tweeted on March 19, 2018, citing the Russia Defense Ministry.
"Russian MoD: All Russian military personnel in Syria have voted, and all 2,954 ballots are for Putin," Kim tweeted.
"(Well, at least we know the exact troop numbers now.)"
Russian MoD: All Russian military personnel in Syria have voted, and all 2,954 ballots are for Putin. (Well, at least we know the exact troop numbers now.)
— Lucian Kim (@Lucian_Kim) March 19, 2018
While this figure could easily be true, it's difficult to verify, given Russia's continual game of misinformation. It's also unclear if that figure included Russian mercenaries who operate in the country, namely to guard oil fields.
Putin won with nearly 77% of the vote, but the election has been criticized by international election monitors as "overly controlled" and lacking "genuine competition," according to CNN.
Russia and the Syrian regime also continue to conduct airstrikes in Eastern Ghouta, where at least 30 were killed on March 18, 2018 alone from regime bombing runs.