MOSCOW – At two large photo exhibitions recently held here, Russians were shown the bomb-scarred Syrian cities of Aleppo and Palmyra as the West rarely sees them.
Instead of images of destruction and starvation, the state-sponsored exhibits showed laughing, healthy children and Russian armored personnel carriers speeding unhindered through desert landscapes.
The disconnect with the carnage in Aleppo, where thousands of civilians are still waiting to be evacuated after a Moscow-backed offensive pushed out almost all rebels, reflects the Kremlin’s spin on the war for its domestic audience: Only Russia can resolve the nearly six-year Syrian conflict.
The Russian government and state media describe the situation in Aleppo as “liberation,” and Russian state TV last week interviewed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who praised Moscow for its support.
President Vladimir Putin’s year-old intervention has expanded Moscow’s political presence and military prowess in the global arena, inspiring songs, videogames and even the penning of letters by schoolchildren for troops stationed there.