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In Syria a few years ago, Russia bombed four hospitals in 12 hours, a savage performance forecasting the treatment they’d mete out to Ukraine. According to The New York Times, Syrian health care workers believed that a United Nations “ humanitarian deconfliction” list containing the locations of hospitals was used as a target list by Russian forces. Of course, Russia leveled the city of Grozny in the late 1990s, killing thousands of civilians. Its soldiers raped and tortured.

What the Russian lacks in planning and proficiency, it makes up in barbarity and utter disregard for humanity. War is hell, but almost all advanced nations try to keep it within some bounds of decency. Russia is an outlier. For it, the cruelty is the point — and the reflexive practice.

Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review.

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