Is Russia fighting in Syria, not through proxies as for the last four years, but via the direct deployment of 'boots on the ground' and pilots? That was the claim of Israeli reporter Alex Fishman writing for YNetNews.com, which created a sensation after Zerohedge picked it up last week. Russia denied it, of course. But the story wouldn't die -- and with good reason.
Military moves and posturing between the United States and its NATO allies on one side, and the Russian-Chinese led Eurasian axis on the other side that includes Iran, are on the rise. American tanks and fighting vehicles are being painted forest green from desert camo as they are redeployed from the Middle East to Europe, while the U.S. Navy is exercising with the Ukrainians in and near the Black Sea port city of Odessa. These latest exercises on Ukrainian soil and across Europe are in addition to soldiers from the U.S., Canada, Poland and untold numbers of NATO contractors and mercenaries training Ukrainian National Guard units and now regular army troops to fight the pro-Russian Novorossiya Armed Forces (NAF) backed by Moscow.
The Global Escalation of Tensions in Cold War 2.0: Russia and China's Show of Martial Unity in the Beijing VJ Day Parade
The Chinese Navy recently sent five ships to the Russian side of the Aleutian Islands chain to embarrass President Barack Obama while Barry Zero was visiting the Last Frontier. Beijing's military parade marking the anniversary of the Japanese signing of the surrender documents ending WWII on September 3rd involved 12,000 soldiers and the Middle Kingdom's most modern hardware, including DF-21 'carrier killer' missiles and road mobile ICBMs. Vladimir Putin was President Xi Jinpeng's guest of honor, with Moscow's famous Preobrazhensky honor guard regiment sharing their commander in chief's status as the most esteemed foreigners at the parade. Not that the Russians were alone with the People's Liberation Army and assorted 80 and 90something year old Chinese veterans of the struggle against the fascist Japanese occupiers.
Much like the May 9 Victory Day parade in Moscow where Xi was the guest of honor, the Chinese event featured contingents from the countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the former Soviet states of Central Asia, as well as India and Serbia. South Korea's New Silk Road promoting female President Park Geun-hye also notably ignored Washington's arrogant suggestion that she not attend.
Rumors of Covert Warfare Between Washington and Beijing, Alongside the Simmering but 'Stable' Ukraine Conflict
The joint parade in Beijing came days after joint military exercises off the Russian Pacific Fleet headquarters city of Vladivostok, where Russia is introducing visa free travel to boost Asian trade and investment. The parade also, as fellow RogueMoney 'brain trust' member Ken Shortgen Jr. observed Friday, coincides with Vladimir Putin proposing legislation to the State Duma to phase out the dollar and euro from Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) trade. It also comes at an important time for China as the country's stock market has seen major declines amidst signs that China's once rapidly growing economy is slowing down to a more manageable pace of growth.
Chinese chemical plants in Tianjin and Shandong recently exploded in highly suspicious circumstances, with the Tianjin blast in particular labeled by many in the alternative media as a possible terrorist or even U.S.-directed attack on the Middle Kingdom in retaliation for Chinese devaluation of the yuan and mass dumping of U.S. Treasury bonds. A U.S. military base in Japan also recently experienced an odd explosion, albeit one Washington claims did not kill or injure anyone as it took place at night. Multiple alternative media outlets have speculated that the Japan blast was a warning in to Washington in an escalating conflict between a rising Chinese and soon to be former U.S. superpower.
Meanwhile, the deadlocked conflict in Ukraine appears to have moved into a quiet if not silent phase, as Kiev faces threats from neo-Nazis and ultranationalists who accuse Washington's man President Poroshenko of surrendering the country's territory and integrity to the 'Russian backed separatists'. On the day the Ukrainian parliament or Verkhovna Rada voted on measures demanded by the Minsk2 accords granting Donetsk and Lugansk regions autonomy, a neo-Nazi thug member of Kiev's Sich battalion threw a grenade into a riot police line guarding the parliament building, fatally wounding three Ukrainian policeman and seriously injuring at least a dozen people.
The grenade attack, which my friend The Saker believes could have been a specially prepared, U.S. staged provocation, embarrassed the Kiev regime and its Western supporters. Not unlike the shootout in the western Ukrainian town of Mukachevo between Right Sector goons and the police this summer, the incident gave lie to the arguments of those who claimed that Ukraine's neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalist volunteer battalions posed no threat to Poroshenko's government and had been unfairly demonized by Kremlin propaganda. Among those standing near the grenade thrower when he pulled the pin was Sen. John "McInsane in the membrane" MCain and Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland's pal, the Svoboda Party Nazi Oleh Tyahnybok.
As we reported in this space at RogueMoney, the poorly-supplied and low morale Ukrainian army did not prove capable of launching the Kiev Independence Day offensive in late August. Ukrainian army units took heavy casualties during their reconnaissance by fire missions, with artillerymen being particularly hard hit by the NAF's Russian-aided counterbattery fire in August.
Today Russian military experts agree that if Kiev intends to launch an attack on the NAF, it must do so before the muddy season starts in late September to early October and definitely before the snow starts falling across the Donbass in November. Ukrainian troops and armored vehicles, already plagued by shortages and worn out equipment, are simply not equipped for mobile warfare in summer conditions, much less during what promises to be a frigid winter.
Zerohedge, Western and Israeli media: Russian air force to begin combat sorties against ISIS within days
Mixed messages -- some pro-Russian and pro-Syrian outlets suggest Moscow is already engaging its active duty servicemen in the fight for Syria, while other sources we consider highly credible like The Saker dismiss the claims as exaggerated or outright US/Israeli disinformation:
Into this context of wars and rumors of covert superpower wars escalating from the proxy to the active tit for tat phase steps Zerohedge, with their 'scoop' from Israeli and some pro-Assad regime Syrian websites about a stepped up Russian military presence in the war-torn country. In fairness to Zerohedge, while many of the mainstream media outlets they cite are hostile towards Moscow, there have also been some pro-Syrian regime individuals like French intellectual Thierry Meyssan and Russian-Israeli writer Israel Shamir reporting that Russian participation in the conflict involves everything but direct 'trigger pulling' on the front lines:
Two days ago we reported something which we had anticipated for a long time but nonetheless did not expect to take shape so swiftly: namely, that with Assad's regime close to collapse and fighting a war on three different fronts (one of which is directly supported by US air and "advisor" forces), Putin would have no choice but to finally intervene in the most anticipated showdown in recent history as "Russian fighter pilots are expected to begin arriving in Syria in the coming days, and will fly their Russian air force fighter jets and attack helicopters against ISIS and rebel-aligned targets within the failing state."
This was indirectly confirmed the very next day when an al-Nusra linked Twitter account posted pictures of a Russian drone and a Su-34 fighter jet - the kind which is not flown by the Syrian air force - flying over the Nusra-controlled western idlib province.
Before Russians Are Dispatched to Fight the Jihadists in Syria, Wouldn't Moscow Consider Who Al-Nusra and ISIS Are Really Working For?
Al-Nusra, for those RogueMoney.net readers who do not know, is a Syrian jihadist rebel group whose leadership has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda. Members of Al-Nusra have received medical treatment in Israeli hospitals, and the Turkish air force has been de facto providing air cover for the Nusra jihadists in the northwestern corner of Syria -- while also bombing the Kurds who have been effectively fighting the Islamic State terrorist group. ISIS supply lines, of course, run up the Euphrates River valley into NATO member Turkey. Call it the Recep Tayyip Chih Minh Erdoğan trail, flowing up the Euphrates rather than the Mekong valley.
If the fact that the Islamic State President Obama has vowed to destroy primarily controls territory adjoining U.S.-ally Turkey and Jordan's borders was not sufficient proof that Washington's campaign against the super-terrorist gang is a phoney war, an interview with retired ex-Defense Intelligence Agency chief Michael Flynn given to Al-Jazeera should dispel any doubts. As RT.com reported on August 11:
General Flynn dismissed Al Jazeera’s supposition that the US administration “turned a blind eye” to the DIA’s analysis.
Flynn believes the US government didn’t listen to his agency on purpose.
“I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision,” the former DIA chief said.
The classified DIA report presented in August 2012, stated that “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al- Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” being supported by “the West, Gulf countries and Turkey.”
The document recently declassified through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), analyses the situation in Syria in the summer of 2012 and predicts: “If the situation unravels, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria… and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”
The report warns of “dire consequences” of this scenario, because it would allow Al-Qaeda to regain its positions in Iraq and unify the jihadist Sunni forces in Iraq, Syria and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against all other Muslim minorities they consider dissenters.
“ISI (the Islamic State of Iraq) could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards of unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory,” the DIA report correctly predicted at the time. Those groups eventually emerged as Islamic State (IS formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front, an Islamic group loyal to Al-Qaeda.
Unlike the US State Department, which rushed to label the declassified DIA memo as unimportant soon after its declassification, the DIA’s former head expressed full trust in the 2012 report, stressing he “paid very close attention” to this document, adding “the intelligence was very clear.”
Al Jazeera notes that Lieutenant General Michael Flynn became “the highest ranking intelligence official to go on record,”saying the US and other states, notably Turkey and the Gulf Arab states, were sponsoring Al-Qaeda-led rebels in Syria with political support and weapons in an attempt to overthrow President Bashar Assad.
When Al Jazeera’s Hasan asked Flynn why he didn’t attempt to stop the US coordinating arms transfers to Islamic extremists, the retired general said: “I hate to say it’s not my job, but my job was to ensure the accuracy of our intelligence,”said Flynn, who also served as director of intelligence for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) during the US hunt for Bin Laden.
Reading between the lines, RT.com all but says -- stopping just short of declaring -- that the Islamic State is a deliberate creation of the United States intelligence agencies and Washington's oil-exporting Sunni Persian Gulf allies. As we've written here at RogueMoney, this is also the conclusion of two leading voices in the Russian intelligence and geopolitical analysis communities, retired KGB Lt. Gen. Leonid Reshetnikov and Colonel-General Igor Sergun, Head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU).
Where both RT and Col. Gen. Sergun leave some 'wiggle room' or a face saving 'out' to the Western intelligence agencies is allowing for the possibility that the Islamic State has slipped the leash of its handlers, morphing from a Saudi-Qatari-Turkish foreign legion directed against Assad into a monster with apocalyptic, global Caliphate ambitions. If the seemingly mighty, 1980s Soviet Union could not crush a few Afghan Pashtun tribesmen or traveling Arab fighters in Afghanistan, modern Russia cannot fight and destroy ISIS without allies in the greater Middle East and beyond.
Allies: a Syrian or Lebanese man has decorated his vehicle with images of Assad, Putin and Hezbollah leader Sheikh Nasrallah
Calling Uncle Sam's ISIS Bluff: What Putin Will Say at the UN General Assembly in New York
As has become evident to informed observers like Col. Cassad aka Boris Rozhin, creating a 'grand anti-Islamic State' coalition, rather than trying to fight the Islamic State alone with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), is Putin's real plan. The deployment of Russian military assets and soldiers to guard them to the Syrian coastal region is a means to an end, not an end of itself. As one anonymous source who claimed to represent the Kremlin's thinking explained to the Russian geopolitics blog Contrpost.com puts it (and keep in mind all of these predictions, especially about Yemen turning into a quagmire for the Saudis that only Jim Willie and a few others were making, have since come true):
Syria does not border Saudi Arabia directly, but only through Jordan or Iraq, and it's a completely different side from the events that are now taking place between SA and Yemen. This will essentially be a second front against the Saudi army. [Emphasis by Ft. Russ not JWS] This second front the Saudis need exactly the same as Hitler needed his Second Front.[link added by JWS] The results will be devastating. In this situation, the Saudi capons are not at all looking forward to it, and they feel that this time the bell is ringing for them.
All of this has implications for the global oil prices. Whatever the U.S. does the oil prices will go up. Even if they just bomb Yemen, the price will rise, as military actions sometimes bring surprises and the risks are very high. It will affect not only oil prices, but also political preferences, political stability and so on.
For Europe this operation will definitely backfire as did the previous one. In this case we are talking about Libya. In this case, of course, the EU did not just sat in a puddle [a Russian saying], but fell into crap up to ears.
What is happening with refugees from Libya defies description. However, it is quite fair, that the citizens of a destroyed country are fleeing to Europe, where nobody bombed anyone, and on the contrary, they bombed Lybia! Today after shattering the country into broken shards, the EU has to take all these refugees. [Note that these comments were made before the refugee influx from Syria kicked into high gear these past few weeks, complete with heart-rending images of drowned toddlers and desperate families trying to get to the promised land of Germany - JWS]
The source goes on to claim that rather than the Empire of Chaos exhausting Russia and her allies through the creation of multiple arcs of crises from Ukraine to Syria to the Chinese markets meltdown, it's the Eurasians who are going to wear down Washington and drive wedges between the U.S. and its allies:
Our readers probably know more about the situation in Ukraine than about the situation in Syria, but it's actually not about Ukraine. This became possible because of the position of the official Ukraine. In the confrontation with the U.S., Putin relies on Ukraine only to force the West, and, to a greater extent, the USA to play his favorite game — gymnastics. Putin loves to coach the US to stretch. This is why none of the provoked military conflicts will be folded. But not quite. Putin is not going to compromise on any one of the conflicts.
If the US wants that the warring factions are separated by two steps, then both of these two steps back will have to be taken by the US, for the simple reason that previously they made these two steps forward and unleashed the conflict. Now Putin will stretch the forces of NATO and the United States to different points of the conflict, and the further these points are from each other, the better. The end of the transit to Afghanistan through Russian territory fits into this strategy. Putin increased the cost of transit at the last stage. Now it is about the withdrawal of troops. Remember the cunning Egyptians, who take money from tourists to get off the camel. Without extra money the Egyptians do not order the camel to sit down. This is how the US will have to leave Afghanistan, but not through the territory of Russia and for a different price.
I must say that this is a pretty harsh decision. Exactly the same thing is happening in Ukraine. The Pentagon has sent his thugs there and again - it's expenses. And don't assume that we are talking about some 300 mercenaries, there are many more of them and again it costs America a lot of "evergreens".
Thus Putin smears American resources around the world and doesn't allow them to assemble in one fist. Is it any wonder that Americans are faced with setbacks and failures everywhere?
This is not about Russia fighting on Assad's behalf but about leveraging its assets and defiance of Washington to usher in a new Middle East, from which America will be greatly humbled if not slowly pushed out. As Zerohedge suggested on Sunday, what Putin is doing is calling America's bluff. The Kremlin is forcing the United States to lay its cards on the table, and make clear to the world whether fighting ISIS or Assad is its highest priority.
If the Obama Administration finally concedes to Putin's position, then Russia will have won a great victory without staking much of its own rather than Syrian blood on the outcome, and America will have lost even more 'face' in the Mideast (on top of its existing losses since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003). But if the Americans persist in their stubborn 'we'll keep attacking ISIS AND Assad must go' position, then Washington will find itself incredibly isolated in a Middle East that has mostly recognized Assad as the far lesser of the two evils and moved on from a catastrophic sectarian war.
What the Russia Analyst expects Putin to say to the United Nations on September 28th will go something like this: 'So you wanted to get rid of the chemical weapons in Syria? Fine, we worked to get rid of them together. You Americans and the whole world want to fight these ISIS barbarians and be able to send the Syrian refugees in Europe home? Fine, let's fight them -- together with Assad, Iran, Iraq, and many of the Arab nations you call allies President Obama. Furthermore we Russians are ready to facilitate serious talks between Assad and members of the opposition groups on a lasting ceasefire in Syria that will facilitate reconstruction and the return of refugees to rebuild their homes [meaning the partition of Syria into Assad dominated Allawite/Christian/secular Sunni areas backed by Russia, China and Iran, contrasted with non-Assad controlled Sunni areas under the influence of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan - JWS]'.
As the Guerrilla tweeted at the start of this month, checkmate Putin. Did we mention Pope Francis and Putin's allies Presidents Rouhani of Iran and Xi of China will speak the same day? If Washington doesn't 'get' the message, then it won't be for lack of a prominent venue at Manhattan's Turtle Bay or insufficient opportunities for face to face talks between Obama and the visiting dignitaries.
Washington still has some options left, but none of them are good, if the maniacally pursued goal of toppling Assad and running Saudi/Qatari pipelines through the Levant at any cost is still Washington's shimmering mirage. Based on what happened in August and September 2013, directly attacking the Russians now setting up a large base in Latakia province, even as an 'oopsie' while trying to bomb ISIS, just ain't one of Washington's options. At least not without running the risk of severe repercussions and Americans coming home in body bags from Syria or Ukraine.
How Putin and the Chinese Backed Uncle Sam Off an Attack on Syria in 2013 -- and Are Doing It Again as the 'Blame Assad for the Refugee Exodus into Europe' Propaganda is Ramped Up Across the Western Media
Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have blamed the U.S. and its allies in both implicit and explicit terms for the rise of ISIS, while rhetorically extending Russia's hand to the West and the whole civilized Arab world to create a grand coalition against the Islamic State. In doing so, Russia's objective is to capitalize on Washington's false pretexts for direct military intervention in Syria -- just as the Kremlin offered the Obama Administration a face-saving way out after it vowed to remove the Damascus regime in August 2013. Moscow declared that Assad was ready to dispose of his chemical weapons, brilliantly killing two birds with one stone by making future chemical false flag attacks staged by the jihadists and blamed on Assad ineffective, as well as denying the Americans their pretext to attack. Putin also, as John B. Wells of Caravan to Midnight so astutely observed at the time, came out looking like the great peacemaker while Washington looked unreliable AND incompetent to its Mideast allies.
The subsequent rumors of the spurned Saudis' drift towards the Eurasian axis, the Iranian nuclear deal, and the modest resurgence of Assad's fighting forces in tandem with the Hezbollah and Iranians were all major geopolitical ripples from the humiliating U.S. climb down from an attack on Damascus in August 2013. Unfortunately for the Kremlin, so was the Americans' revenge on the Maidan in Kiev.
Nonetheless, the fact that Russia and China stood shoulder to shoulder in sending warships to the eastern Mediterranean that provided effective radar coverage for the Syrian military at least the implied risk of advanced arms transfers to the Syrian military. Fears that advanced Russian and Chinese weaponry could inflict casualties on attacking American planes and pilots balked Obama's Joint Chiefs. Not only were the Joint Chiefs of Staff terrified of S-300s, Yakhont and C-802 anti-shipping missiles, and perhaps even Kornet ATGMs of the type Hezbollah has used to humble Israel's mighty IDF killing American pilots, sailors and Marines -- they also understood Assad's loyalists would not be a walkover like Saddam's army had been in 2003. The Joint Chiefs also recognized that even if Damascus could be taken without sacrificing hundreds or thousands of American lives, the U.S. would still be stuck with either occupying Allawite and Shi'a areas bordering Hezbollah's strongholds in Lebanon, or turning these areas over to Al-Qaeda franchisees. What a nightmarish choice for any commander still willing to put the lives of his men before being a mere yes man for the warmongering crazies inside the Beltway!
Small wonder then upstart (before he went full neocon) Texas Senator Ted Cruz's quip about 'not being Al-Qaeda's air force' proved so devastating to the neocon and neoliberal interventionists' case. As did the crumbling of the faked intelligence related to Assad 'gassing his own people' with sarin in the Damascus suburb of east Ghouta, which was outsourced to the same British social media fraudster (Eliot Higgins aka BrownMoses aka Bellingcat) who would prove so pivotal in promoting the Ukrainian SBU's fabrications surrounding MH17 ten months later.
The coup de grace against the Syrian war hawks position of course, was delivered by the British Parliament, which shocked everyone including Prime Minister David Cameron by rejecting a resolution supporting British poodle participation alongside the American big dogs in a Syria war. Whether Chinese plans to set up renmibi swaps with the City of London bankers had something to do with that nasty surprise for Washington, we'll leave to others to speculate. It's safe to assume that China was using the full sweep of its soft power to stop Washington from removing the Assad regime at the same time that Russia was exerting more hard power to present a formidable military obstacle to direct American intervention. And those same obstacles remain in place or have become even greater today as British and French politicians start making noises about 'doing something' to stop the Syrian and Mideast refugee crisis by dropping bombs at the source.
[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdbceqE84Og[/embed] Empty Threats and Alarmist Headlines -- Why No U.S. Jets Will Be 'Accidentally' Bombing Russians or Vice Versa in Syria
This past weekend the fact that Moscow was doubling down on its pre-existing force structure in Syria, rather than 'dumping' Assad as the lying mainstream media had falsely suggested for months, has official Washington furious. So furious that in the Reuters story featured as the top "U.S.-Russia Showdown" headline on the Drudge Report late Saturday night in the U.S., Washington strongly hinted that a stepped up Russian military presence in Syria create some risk of direct clashes between Moscow's forces and "the anti-Islamic State coalition operating [sic -JWS] led by the U.S. that is carrying out strikes in Syria." But the odds that U.S. jets will bomb Latakia by mistake while attempting to strike ISIS are between slim and none, because
A) ISIS isn't operating in these Assad loyalist dominated areas, except for the occasional VBIED or suicide bombing that could threaten the lives or health of Russian servicemen and contractors operating in 'safe' zones of pro-regime Syria
B) Russia's military presence and activities appear limited to the areas where Moscow's men have already been operating in a combat support, logistics and intelligence capacity for many months -- the Latakia region and Damascus. There is no evidence, contrary to the irresponsible speculations of Zerohege, that 'Tyler Durden' somewhat walked back on Sunday, that Russian combat troops or pilots will be broadly engaged against the 'Free Syrian Army', Al-Nusra or other non-ISIS groups attacking the Assad regime and its allied Hezbollah/Iranian forces. Although we do have to admit the stepped up presence of Russian forces could create more opportunities for deliberate targeting and attempts to kidnap or kill Russian servicemen on the part of the anti-Assad groups backed by You Know Who.
We've already seen at least one group of Russian mercenaries, the so-called 'Slavonic Corps' [pictured at the headline for this RM post] consisting of several dozen men get ambushed and several members killed or wounded by jihadists who eventually joined ISIS. When the Slavonic Brigade mercs returned to Russia, they were arrested by the FSB and debriefed before being sent home with non-disclosure agreements and no doubt, some promises of compensation for keeping quiet.
C) Even if U.S. F/A-18 or F-16 pilots intrude into Russian-controlled air space around Assad's coastal redoubt region, they are likely to hear the distinctive 'death' screeching of an S-300 or 400 series SAM radar painting their aircraft on their ECM headsets. If that doesn't convey the message 'Don't fly here' the Russian and Syrian Air Forces are more than capable of sending up a combat air patrol even of older model Syrian MiGs if not those long rumored MiG-31 interceptors to escort the Americans or Turks away.
Amazing footage from Russia's Defense Ministry channel Zvezda of the S-300 surface to air missile system in action
If THAT kind of messaging fails then the Russians might very well shoot down a Turkish F-16 bombing the Kurds to send a message, just as they've reportedly shot down one Israeli F-15I strike fighter in recent weeks, "Don't fly in our skies". Whether American, Turkish or Israeli, none of the anti-Assad countries pilots are suicidal. Russia does not aim to harm the servicemen of any anti-ISIS coalition country, but it certainly won't get struck without striking back twice as hard to send a message that, unlike in 1999 Kosovo, NATO aggression won't go unpunished. For the U.S./NATO and Israel, there will be no more friendly skies over Assad-loyalist held positions and towns in Syria.
As the Guerrilla mentioned the other day during his appearance on the X22 Report interview program with Dave, the S-400 is the best operational long range land-based air defense system in the world and Moscow won't hesitate to use it to protect the port of Tartus or the major air base/operations center Russia is reportedly constructing outside Latakia.
D) We know from past reports including after the Russian military secured Crimea and the USS Donald Cook incident in April 2014 that the Russian high command and the Pentagon's top brass routinely communicate via their 'hotlines' regarding avoidance of unnecessary provocations in the air and at sea. Thanks to modern spy satellites equipped with ground penetrating radar and infrared scanning in addition to high resolution cameras, both sides are aware of each other's military movements on a daily basis.
Testing of Russia's supersonic land based Bastion anti-shipping missile system on the Black Sea coast of Crimea
E) There's one more reason we do not expect any direct U.S.-Russian clashes in Syria, even of the 'accidental' sort -- tit for tat retaliation. Washington has too much to lose, unless the people inside the Beltway and Pentagon ERing have gone completely mad and are out to 'kill Russians' in retired Army Gen. Robert H. Scales infamous words on Fox News. And if THAT's the case, we can only hope cooler heads among the Joint Chiefs will remind the neocon or neoliberal fanatics that American warships sail in the narrow confines of the Black Sea at the Russians' sufferance, and 'accidents' involving tests of Russia's land based Bastion anti-shipping missile system hitting an AEGIS destroyer at supersonic speeds could happen. Russia also has highly capable drones, some of which may carry Kornet or other deady guided missiles. If Russian servicemen can be targeted in Syria, then U.S./NATO mercs or CIA officers who 'aren't' embedded with the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and volunteer battalions like Azov in the Donbass can also die in spetsnaz raids or air strikes. As we've warned RogueMoney.net readers, the giveaway that American servicemen, spooks or mercs have been killed in eastern Ukraine would be a 'Taliban suicide bombing' outside Kabul that nobody would witness but which could provide cover for body bags being flown home from Borispol airport in Kiev, rather than Bagram Air Force Base.
The recent report on Ft. Russ about 'Quiet Americans' was most likely released in the public domain by Russian media linked through the usual cutouts to the FSB/SVR/GRU, in order to remind the Langley boys that their counterparts know where they eat, sleep, crap and perhaps partake of certain adult services while in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities. If Russia's surveillance capabilities are good in Kiev, it stands to reason they have a pretty good handle on where and when the 'invisible' Americans and NATO military attaches and spooks are showing up in Kharkov and Mariupol, both cities only a few miles from Russia, where the SBU has failed to stomp out a substantial pro-Russian underground.
While There is No Doubt Russia Has Stepped Up Military Support for Assad, There's No Evidence of Russian Servicemen in Combat -- Or That Moscow Intends to Put Its Forces Directly into the Fight When the SAA, Hezbollah, Iran and Iraq Are All Fighting ISIS
On top of these objections to the notion that Russia and the U.S. will soon be fighting directly in Syria, Putin has not committed Russian troops public ally to direct combat in the war-torn country. Instead, the Kremlin's paramount leader re-affirmed Russia's unshakable support for the Syrian government while hinting that Assad would be willing to see some members of his opposition elected in internationally supervised voting. As Sputnik reports:
With the story of Russian involvement making its way around the world, suspense was only heightened after Kremlin Spokesman Dmitri Peskov brushed off the claims through a dry, awkwardly translated statement reading that "you should not believe these reports," a statement which detractors took to mean just the opposite.
Now, despite growing skepticism over the veracity of the reports, The Telegraph seems to have stuck to its guns, releasing a piece Friday about the Russian president's talk of the need for an "international coalition" against terrorism and reading it to suggest that this may confirm the reports of a Russian warfighting presence in Syria.
'Refugees Fleeing ISIL, Not Assad': Putin on Syria and Other Global Affairs
What Vladimir Putin said, in fact, was that Russia has been open about looking "to form an international coalition on the fight against terrorism and extremism," adding that "for this purpose, we are holding consultations with our American partners."
Asked directly about whether Moscow was ready to join Washington in direct military action against the Islamic State, Putin explained that this was "a separate issue," adding that "we see what is going on –the American [air units] are making airstrikes. The efficiency of these airstrikes is low. It is premature to say that we are ready to do the same."
The president confirmed what is no secret —that Russia is "providing serious support to Syria: equipment, training for military personnel and armaments," which The Telegraph again took to be a direct sign of Russian military intervention.
In its response to The Times and The Telegraph, Dagens Nyheter, whose piece was immediately picked up by Russian-language media, explained that the pair of British newspapers had jumped to conclusions which stretched far beyond the materials they had to work with, adding that they had not even "taken the trouble of presenting any credible evidence."
The paper emphasized that while it is "no state secret" that Russia has provided Syria with assistance over the course of Damascus's war with its insurgency, "Russia has nothing to gain from sending combat troops to the country." The paper concluded that "despite the fact that the regime in Damascus is Russia's key ally in the Middle East, there isn't much to suggest that Putin would have any interest in sending combat ground troops to a country that is well on its way to dissolution."
The Dagens Nyheter's analysis was echoed by Russian internet newspaper The Russian Times, which noted Friday that the British newspapers appear to have done a number on the world's media by making arguments which haven't been backed up by any concrete evidence.
Make no mistake RogueMoney readers, these are the threats of a desperate, cornered, soon to be former hegemon losing its position in the Middle East, not of a confident superpower able to brush the Russians, Chinese and their Iranian Eurasian axis allies aside.
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is Worn Out -- But Damascus' Mideast Adversaries Are Also Bleeding Cash and Proxy Assets... and Hence Willing to Talk Peace with Putin!
Turning to the situation in Syria today as compared to 2013, we see that the Assad regime has survived far longer than both friends and foes had thought possible. The Syrian Arab Army has suffered heavy losses but has also gained significant battle experience, while its adversaries have also undergone a Darwinian process of battlefield selection. Fighters for the SAA, particularly those from the regime's Allawite heartland in the Latakia region on the Mediterranean and the secular Sunnis of Damascus, know that they can expect no mercy for themselves or their families and hometowns should Assad fall. This motivates them to fight with the desperation of men who already, like Russians at the gates of Moscow or Stalingrad, count themselves dead but hope only for others to live.
The SAA is joined on the battlefield by tough Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, commanded by Iranian Revolutionary Guards colonels and generals who have also lost their own men in the conflict. From the east in Iraq, there is some hope that the Russian and U.S. armed Iraqi army, now reduced to its Shi'a corps and allied militias, can inflict defeats on ISIS, as the Kurdish Peshmergas have backed by U.S. special forces in the north.
Unfortunately for the SAA as well as the Kurds, Ankara does not want its proxy ally the Islamic State completely crushed or the Kurds triumphant. Over the last several weeks the Turkish air force has attacked the Kurds who have been most effective against ISIS with air strikes just when it seemed the Peshmergas would cut off ISIL's key supply lines to Turkey. Sectarian support for ISIS or at least fear of the notorious groups terror keeps many Sunni Iraqis in line, while oil revenues continue to flow to the Islamic State uninterrupted through NATO member Turkey's territory. The U.S., while pretending to fight ISIS and permitting the mainstream media to criticize Erdoğan for bombing the Kurds, does absolutely nothing to punish NATO member Turkey's tacit if not direct support for ISIS -- a fact that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has no doubt brought up with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in their 'private' conversations. Lavrov has also reminded Secretary Kerry, we don't doubt, that ISIS is on the outskirts of Damascus and should they get inside the city or somehow succeed in attacking the Assad regime's capital buildings the terror group's prestige will only grow.
The military situation for the SAA is relatively stable, but bad -- ISIS is threatening Damascus' outskirts while the so-called Syrian rebels including the Al-Qaeda loyal Al-Nusra front mercenaries are attacking the Assad regime's coastal heartland in the Allawite and Christian majority Latakia region on the Mediterranean. We expect any Russian bases, advisers and possible direct military assistance will remain concentrated in Latakia Governorate
For those who doubt that the dirtiest, darkest elements of the U.S. 'Deep State' are in bed with Turkish Deep Staters to use ISIS for their own purposes, or to those who would challenge Reshetnikov and Sergun's allegations against Washington regarding ISIS as simply accusatory rhetoric, Bill Gertz August 28 report, "Pentagon Not Targeting Islamic State Training Camps" should clear up any doubts. Washington's war on ISIS is as fake as a $3 bill, and numerous military commanders -- despite the Obama Administration's draconian Espionage Act threats against journalists' sources -- are pissed off and slowly leaking out the truth.
Gertz is of course, no fan of the Russians or Chinese, and is notorious as a cheerleader for expensive weapons systems that the sequester fighters of the Pentagon would love to keep even when they're clearly unaffordable or junk (like the F-35). But if even Bill Gertz is acknowledging the Obama Administration's fake war on ISIS for partisan political reasons or due to a hawkish ideology, the half-assed or phoney nature of Washington's 'war' on ISIS is increasingly obvious to anyone not brainwashed by mainstream media propaganda.
Speaking of propaganda, the coincidence between 'the Russians are going big and going in hot in Syria' hype and a Business [CIA sock puppet - JWS] Insider report about the Islamic State taking credit for an attack on a military base in the southern Russian Caucasus region of Dagestan has also been noticed by members of the Saker blog community. We should note that much like the supposed 'evidence' that Russian Air Force Su-34 jets are fighting in Syria, any proof of this successful ISIS/Caucasus Emirate attack on a Russian Army base seems to be sketchy to non-existent.
Nonetheless, the Grim Reaper is coming for Erdoğan's once popular government. The three horseman of the apocalypse for Erdoğan's brand of once U.S. and Saudi facilitated neo-Ottomanism are renewed Kurdish insurgency, Turkish lira/trade collapse, as well as the growing unpopularity of Turkish interventions in Syria. Istanbul's fully European seculars already had little reason to love Erdoğan's Islamist government, and now with their property values and purchasing power declining they will loathe him even more. Whatever bridges Erdoğan once had with Moscow and Beijing have been damaged, if not burned, by the Turkish government's sabotaging of the Turkstream pipeline and two-faced, half-hearted embrace of China's New Silk Road mega project. Both of which offer Turkey the only serious prospects for growth it has as increasing Kurdish militancy and a massive refugee crisis coincide with the emerging market dollar-loans bust to dump the Turks into quasi-permanent recession.
On the other side of the once potent Turkish-Saudi axis that had attacked Assad's regime in a pincer move, we see Saudi Arabia burning through its still-huge oil reserve funds at an alarming rate. The Saudi gambit of maintaining sky high production while the rest of OPEC begs for cuts to balance their own budgets bleeding red ink from Caracas to Lagos has succeeded in wrecking the U.S. shale energy industry, but probably not for good. Meanwhile, in Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia, we see Saudi soldiers dying every day at the hands of Houthi tribesmen and their Yemeni allies, with some KSA tankers burning to death after Soviet 1980s vintage ATGMs hit their American-provided Abrams and Bradley fighting vehicles. The threat of terror attacks ISIS poses to Riyadh is quite real, but the Saudis worst nightmare is facing a Shi'a uprising in the Kingdom's eastern oil producing regions at the same time that its army can no longer contain a raging Houthi insurgency that brazenly raids Saudi bases far from the Yemeni border.
Clearly, the Kingdom desperately needs some sort of face-saving peace with the Houthis, but the price of peace in Yemen will be also cutting a deal with Iran's chief ally in the region, Assad. For these reasons as well as [hat tip Jim Willie] China's energy demand as the Persian Gulf rivals top customer, the great multi-decade long proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran must end. And Putin is just the man to offer his services as an 'honest broker', and as both a competitor and potential partner in 're balancing' (read: mutual production cutting in) the oil market with Riyadh and Tehran.
Can Russia Save Syria from Washington's Proxies? If the Russians Can Arm the Iraqis, Iranians and Even Egyptians to Slaugter ISIS -- Yes They Can
Therefore in the Russia Analyst's view we are unlikely to see Russian soldiers and combat pilots participating in direct combat with the Islamic State or the anti-Assad rebels -- unless their status as anti-ISIS coalition member combatants can receive some sort of United Nations or international mandate. Then the situation would change completely as Russia would be able to use its highest firepower and most modern weapons while regional allies (Iraq, Iran, and possibly even Saudi Arabia and Egypt to take de facto control over southern and Jordanian-bordering Sunni areas of Syria) would provide the bulk of the manpower and endure the casualties before ISIS is completely wiped out. Remember, the Iraqi army has barely begun to fight ISIS, and after some initial severe setbacks when the Iraqis' Sunni contingent literally melted away and surrendered vast quantities of American arms and dollars to the Islamic State in what smelled like a pre-arranged deal, the Shi'a Iraqis have been killing ISIS 'by the bushel'. In the end, the neocons' dreams of luring Russia into an Afghanistan 2.0, whether in eastern Ukraine or Syria, are unlikely to be realized.
Fortunately for Russia and the world, this is exactly how we see the situation playing out. This has also likely been the agenda for the unprecedented negotiations between the Saudis, Jordanians, UAE and Moscow on the sidelines of the recent MAKS Air Show, complete with Syrian representatives meeting with their Saudi counterparts. In years past, there would have been nothing for Russia and the Saudis to discuss, at least not in any overt way. As recently as the run up to the Sochi Olympics, Prince Bandar 'Bush' was reportedly threatening Putin with terrorist attacks on the Winter Olympiad if Russia didn't back off its support for Assad.
How times have changed. Prince Bandar Bush was forced into retirement after he allegedly was hurt in a car bomb blast. And late August witnessed the stunning diplomatic spectacle of Washington's close allies, King Abdullah of Jordan and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (one of the highest ranking leaders of the filthy rich United Arab Emirates), meeting with Putin behind closed doors.
It looks like to us and several other observers [Jim Willie?] that Saudi Arabia getting ready to 'switch' sides from trying to topple Assad unsuccessfully for the past four or even six years, to actively working with the Syrian regime, Moscow and Iran to exterminate ISIS. This would represent a diplomatic revolution in Mideast affairs -- with Erdoğan's government in Turkey, Uncle Sam and possibly Israel if they don't 'get with the program' as the biggest losers. Unless of course, the U.S. does something desperate and runs the risk of direct clashes with Russian forces by intervening before Washington's 'both ISIS and Assad must go' bluff gets called.
Thankfully, the odds that we could see a situation like that depicted in the video game Battlefield 3 clip below, with Russians fighting Americans in some ruined corner of the Middle East, remain very low. The humiliating U.S. climb down in the late summer of 2013 when Russia and China united to block American plans for 'regime change' in Syria is all the proof we need of this.
U.S. versus Russia/China in a WWIII that begins in the Middle East? NOT...GONNA...HAPPEN -- thank GodBattlefield 3's depiction of a Russian assault on American forces trying to 'liberate' some god-forsaken corner of the Mideast
In case RogueMoney readers were curious about the original music from this video...here is some gratuitous tank footage from the Russian 2015 Victory Day parade as a 'tanks you' to our late friend Michael Rosecliff...
Field, my field, My broad and wide field, Heroes ride over the field, Hey, the heroes of the Red Army. Girls are crying, Girls are sorrowful today, Their sweethearts went away for a long time, Hey, their sweethearts went away to the army. Girls, cast a glance, Cast a glance at our road At our long, winding road, Hey, the happy road.
We are riding and riding We collective farms all around Our collective farms, girls Hey, our young villages We only see We see a grey mist, Enemy's hatred is behind the forest Hey, the enemy's hatred, like a fog. Hey, girls, look, We are ready to take on the enemy, Our horses are fleet-footed, Our tanks are fast-paced.
In the skies behind the clouds Sit our fearsome pilots Our submarines sail swiftly Our ships are standing watch May the collective farms Teem in friendly labor Today we are guardians, Today we are standing guard.
Girls, look Girls, wipe your tears May the song grow louder Hey, our battle song!
Field, my field, My broad and wide field, Heroes ride over the field, Hey, the heroes of the Red Army.
Полюшко, поле, Полюшко, широко поле, Едут по полю герои, Эх, да Красной Армии герои.
Девушки плачут, Девушкам сегодня грустно. Милый надолго уехал, Эх, да милый в армию уехал.
Девушки, гляньте, Гляньте на дорогу нашу, Вьется дальняя дорога, Эх, да развеселая дрорга.
Едем мы, едем, Едем - а кругом колхозы, Наши, девушки, колхозы. Эх, да молодые наши села.
Только мы видим, Видим мы седую тучу, Вражья злоба из-за леса, Эх, да вражья злоба, словно туча.
Девушки, гляньте, Мы врага принять готовы, Наши кони быстроноги, Эх, да наши танки быстроходны.
В небе за тучей Грозные следят пилоты. Быстро плававют подлодки. Эх, да корабли стоят в дозоре.
Пусть же в колхозе Дружная кипит работа, Мы - дозорные сегодня, Эх, да мы сегодня часовые.
Девушки, гляньте, Девушки, утрите слезы. Пусть сильнее грянет песня, Эх, да наша песня боевая !
Полюшко, поле, Полюшко, зелено поле ! Едут по полю герои, Эх, да Красной Армии герои