MOSCOW — Russia’s Defence Ministry on Monday opened bidding on a contract to deliver over 10,000 medals to soldiers troops involved in Moscow’s operation in Syria, suggesting the scope of its involvement there.
The ministry posted a contract on the government procurement website for 10,300 medals and accompanying certificates for a total of 2.2 million rubles ($32,000).
The award — named "To the participant of the military operation in Syria" — was created by the Defence Ministry on Nov. 30 and Russian media have reported that some pilots who returned to Russia from Syria this month have already been decorated.
Scans and photos leaked on various social networks show a golden medal with an engraved warship and warplanes against the outline of Syria.
Moscow has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria since Sept. 30, also launching cruise missiles from ships and submarines.
President Vladimir Putin earlier this month ordered the surprise withdrawal of the bulk of Russia's armed forces from Syria, saying Moscow's task in the war-torn country had been "on the whole" completed.
Although the Kremlin had denied it was conducting a ground operation in Syria, officials recently admitted that Moscow's intervention in the country has also included special forces contingents. AFP journalists also saw Russians operating artillery last week in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra.