Helion's Moscow's Game of Poker

Author/Artists: Tom Cooper


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 98 pages, softcover
ISBN 978-1-804510-90-2

This is a fairly timely book. Though it covers the Russian involvement in Syria's civil war, it provides an insight into the standard operations of the Russian military.

Syria has not been a functioning nation for many years. The al-Assad regime is particularly brutal, something you would expect when you have a minority ruling a nation. By the time the Syrians requested help from the Russians, things were not looking good. The government was kept on life support by the Iranians, who not only supplied funds but troops as well. Over 80% of the Syrian army had fled with only the air force staying fairly loyal to the leadership.

On top of that, ISIS had made major in-roads in the eastern part of the country and controlled a fairly good portion of the land in that sector. Up north, the Kurds were also causing issues. The US and other nations were not only providing some support to the anti-Assad militias, but were underway in attacking ISIS from bases in Iraq.

So here come the Russians. They sent small numbers of tactical aircraft into the country and took over at least one base for their own use. From there, they began operations, using, at one time or another, examples of pretty much every aircraft type in the inventory. Some of their bombers were operating out of Iran, which caused some issues in that country and those operations from there were fairly short lived.

As we have seen in Ukraine, the Russians are not big on precision attacks. Frankly, it seems they are incapable of them. The result was a fairly large casualty rate among civilians. Not only that, but there were some losses, with a couple of planes shot down by both US and Turkish aircraft as they strayed into areas agreed upon as being outside their areas of influence. However, despite the fairly short period of time the Russians were in country, they and the Iranians managed to bolster the al-Assad regime and prevent its collapse.

I have to say that this is one of the better books in this series, and that is saying a lot. The research that went into this one is superb. We are able to follow the flow of events to see just how everything panned out. Add to it the usual excellent choice of photos and the color profiles and maps that are standard fare for this series, and you have a book well worth reading. Highly recommended.

October 2022

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