Russia is ready to provide most advanced anti-terror gear to its customers

The president says Russia is facing a misconduct of a range of countries on the global arms market

© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, December 12. /TASS/. Russia is prepared to offer its customers the most advanced equipment and gear for fighting against terrorism, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of the commission for military-technical cooperation with other countries on Monday.

“We are prepared to offer our customers the most advanced anti-terrorist means,” the Russian leader said.

He went on to say he was referring to not just means of close combat, but also military aircraft, air defense weapons, rocket launchers and armored vehicles.

“In a word, everything that helps successfully fight with terrorists, who in fact created large, well-organized armed groups and often use well-trained specialists with a record of service in the regular army, and advanced weapons, including those of western manufacture,” Putin said He drew attention to the fact that Russia was making a tangible contribution to struggle against international terrorism and to enhancing the defense capability of its allies, including CSTO allies and CIS partners. The geographic range of supplies keeps expanding. Of late, whole regions of the world confronted soaring violence and terrorist threats. He mentioned Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan as examples.

Russia is facing a misconduct of a range of countries on the global arms market and this needs to be taken into account, Putin said.

“Our country confidently ranks second in the world in this area (arms market), and in the top five we are ahead of France, Germany and the United Kingdom,” Putin said at the meeting of a commission on military and technical cooperation with foreign countries.

“At the same time we act in traditionally tough competitive conditions and sometimes even face misbehavior of some partners,” he said.

“The portfolio of orders (for Russian arms and military equipment – TASS) is at a consistently high level, that is, more than $50 billion,” the head of state said. He noted that this year “the volume of export sales in terms of military-technical cooperation continues to be high.” “I ask military-technical cooperation entities and a state intermediary to take comprehensive measures to ensure stable demand for Russian products,” the president said, pointing to the need to pay special attention to the geographical range of supplies.


Counterterror Cooperation Very High on Pakistan-Russia Agenda



This undated photo shows a Russian-made MI-17 Pakistan Army helicopter landing in Islamabad, Pakistan

   Maj. Gen. Naveed Ahmed, the director general of defense procurement for Pakistan, stated that cooperation between Russia and Pakistan in counterterrorism is very high.

   KUBINKA (Moscow region) – The issue of counterterrorism cooperation is very high on the agenda of Russia and Pakistan, including numerous high-level exchanges on the issue, Maj. Gen. Naveed Ahmed, the director general of defense procurement for the country, told Sputnik on Tuesday.

   “Our cooperation in counterterrorism is very high on our agenda. There were very high level exchanges between two countries last year,” Ahmed, who is leading the Pakistani delegation to the Army-2016 military expo, said.

   Last month, Russia’s Southern Military District (SMD) said that the first Friendship-2016 Russian-Pakistani joint military exercise would kick off in Pakistan in September. The drills will take place between September 23 and October 10 at the Army High Altitude School in northern Pakistan’s Rattu and at a special forces training center in Cherat.

   “Very soon you will find that two special services would be interacting and would be caring out military exercises,” Ahmed added.

   The military forum, which is taking place on September 6-11 in Kubinka, a western suburb of Moscow, brings together representatives from the Russian defense industry, research institutes, universities, as well as foreign companies. Over 800 Russian and foreign participants will mount some 7,000 exhibitions throughout the week. The forum’s participants and guests will attend a number of conferences and round-table discussions to discuss the future development of military technology.

Russia’s FSB Prevents Terrorist Attacks in Crimea Prepared by Ukrainian Intel



The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) prevented terrorist acts in Crimea plotted by Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate.

    Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said Wednesday that it had prevented terrorist attacks in Crimea prepared by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s intelligence services.

“The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation prevented terrorist acts in the Republic of Crimea, prepared by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense’s Main Intelligence Directorate,” the FSB said in a statement.

According to the security service, the attacks were set to target the peninsula’s key infrastructure and facilities.

“The goal of the sabotage and terrorist acts was to destabilize the sociopolitical situation before and during the election of federal and regional authorities,” the FSB said.

One FSB officer was killed during the counterterrorist operation.

“As a result of search operations on the night from August 6 to August 7, 2016, a group of saboteurs was discovered near the town of Armyansk in the Crimean Republic. An FSB officer died as a result of a firefight during the arrest,” the FSB said.

Twenty improvised explosive devices, ammunition and other weapons at the disposal of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been uncovered at the site, the service added.

FSB Stamps Out Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Spy Ring in Crimea

The FSB said that it had eliminated a spy ring organized by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry in Crimea, detaining both Russian and Ukrainian nationals involved in preparing terrorist attacks on the peninsula.

“An agent network [created] by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense’s Main Intelligence Directorate has been eliminated. Ukrainian and Russian nationals involved in the preparation of terrorist acts have been detained and are confessing,” the FSB said in a statement.

The Federal Security Service also said it had prevented two overnight attempts by Kiev-organized terrorist groups from entering Crimea.

Russia’s border with Ukraine has been reinforced and security at places of mass gathering and key infrastructure facilities in Crimea has been stepped up.

“Additional security measures in public and recreational places have been adopted, including the protection of critical infrastructure. The boundary regime on the border with Ukraine has been strengthened,” the FSB said.

A criminal investigation has been opened into an attempted act of terrorism filed late last week and claimed to be directed by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry‘s intelligence service, it added.

The Federal Security Service also said it had prevented two overnight attempts by Kiev-organized terrorist groups from entering Crimea on the night of Monday, August 8, in which one Russian soldier was killed.

“The break-through attempts were covered with massive shelling from the neighboring state and the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ armored vehicles. A Russian Defense Ministry serviceman was killed in the firefight,” the FSB said.

US War on Terror: A ‘Matrix of Lies and Deceit’

Iraq's elite counter-terrorism forces gather ahead of an operation to re-take the Islamic State-held City of Fallujah, outside Fallujah, Iraq, Sunday, May 29, 2016.


Canada-based international criminal lawyer Christopher Black attempted to analyze what lies behind the “war on terror” declared by the US after the 2001 attacks and came to the conclusion that it is nothing but an attempt to trap the people worldwide in the “matrix of lies and deceit that define the modern world.”

“We are told, the world over, by every government, that we are in a “war against terrorism.” Christopher Black writes in his article for the New Eastern Outlook website.However, he further notes “terrorism is an action, a tactic, a strategy. It’s a method not person, a group, a country.”

“How can there be a war against a method of war,” he wonders.

But they want us to fight a method and never ask the why or the who. That doesn’t seem to matter anymore. They tell us not to be concerned with why something happens, only how it happens, he replies.

“The people don’t need to know why “terrorists” exist, or who they are and what motivates them, or even whether they really exist, for they are just “terrorists”, the lawyers says, referring to the phrase used by George Bush after 2001 attacks.

“The War On Terror is in fact The American War Against The World,” the author states.

He further explains that by saying that they are “fighting against terrorism” in Iraq, the Americans “really mean they are fighting the resistance to their invasion and occupation.”When they say the same in Afghanistan, “they are fighting a national resistance”

“The Russians, when they say they are fighting “terrorism” in Syria, know that in fact they are fighting the United States and its allies and proxy forces,” he adds.

“The bombings and shootings in Europe, Asia, the US, and Russia are all connected to the real war that is being conducted by the United States against the world it wants to control, and, in fact, can better be described as a war of terror being waged against the rest of us by the United States and its vassal states.”

The author also notes that, interestingly enough, “each set of ‘terrorist” bombings from London to Madrid, to Paris to Boston and the shootings” always end up with the claimed attackers being dead instead of arrested”. As if to intentionally conceal who is an actual mastermind of the attack.

This, together with another interesting fact that many of the attacks “often occur at the same time that the police are conducting “anti-terrorist” drills” gives him a reason to suggest that “all the alleged attackers apparently have some connection to the intelligence services of the countries involved”.

“The use of the word “terrorism” says nothing. It contains no useful information that can lead to an understanding of events and circumstances. It is a word used to dope the mind, paralyse thought, to sap the will. Language is an important tool of control of the people. To accept the terms of propaganda used by the powers that want to control us is to surrender to them completely because once we do that we lose the ability think rationally, to analyse, to question, to think for ourselves,” he states.

“Finally, terror is an act that is used by those that can’t get what they want legitimately. Individual acts of terror, carried out by the lone terrorist or small group are carried out because they have no other political power than to try to frighten the populace. But acts of terror carried out by those factions of society that hold state power proves that they know their objectives and methods are criminal. That is why they have to resort to the terrorism of their own peoples in order to maintain control and dominance.”“If we want to eliminate terrorism in this world then we have to eliminate the conditions that bring to power those willing to use terrorism to rule,” he further says.

However in the United States, he notes, “a democratic revolution would have to take place, but the disorganised mob that is now the American people is more easily swayed by the demagogues of fascism, like Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, than by ideas of social and economic justice.”

“Maybe someone out there has the answer to all this. I don’t. But we are not going to find it, even look for it, unless we know when to call a spade a spade, and not “terrorism,” the author finally states.


Russia’s ‘surprise & unexpected’ Syria withdrawal welcomed as signal for ‘true peace process’


Su-24 Fencer tactical bomber prepares for takeoff from the Hmeimim airbase in Lattakia, Syria. © Ramil Sitdikov
International political leaders have welcomed the Russian military pullout from Syria, and while many have called the Kremlin’s decision “unexpected,” it is seen as clearing the way for dialogue at a time when a truce in five-year-old war is being negotiated in Geneva.

Acknowledging that five months of military campaigns have mostly succeeded in their primary objective of eliminating the immediate wider threat from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), President Vladimir Putin has ordered the partial withdrawal of Russian armed forces from Syria.

Russia has placed its strategic emphasis on establishing a diplomatic effort, with Putin instructing the Foreign Ministry to intensify Moscow’s participation in organizing the peace process to resolve the Syrian crisis, which is about to enter its sixth year.

After announcing partial Russian withdrawal, President Putin, explained to his American counterpart in a phone conversation that the decision will “certainly serve as a good signal to all conflicting sides and create conditions for the start of a true peace process,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The timing of the Russian decision is crucial as vital negotiations to avert further bloodshed in Syria resumed on Monday in Geneva. The last round of negotiations collapsed in January because the opposition block refused to debate their differences as Russian air raids intensified near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

Obama welcomed the “much-needed reduction in violence” since the cease-fire took effect late last month, the White House said in a statement about Monday’s phone call. “The president underscored that a political transition is required to end the violence in Syria,” the White House added.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also welcomed Moscow’s announcement saying it will put additional pressure on parties in Geneva to negotiate a peaceful transition to end the Syrian turmoil.

“This will increase the pressure on the al-Assad regime to finally and seriously negotiate a peaceful political transition in Geneva,” Steinmeier said in a statement.

Comments also came from the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

“The fact that a semi-ceasefire has been holding in Syria is welcome news, it’s something that we’ve been asking for at least two-and-a-half, three years,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a meeting with his Australian couterpart Julie Bishop in Canberra.

“The fact that Russia announced that it’s withdrawing part of its forces indicates that they don’t see an imminent need for resort to force in maintaining the ceasefire,” he added. “That in and of itself should be a positive sign. Now we have to wait and see.”

While Russia plans to maintain a military presence at its naval base in Tartous and the Khmeymim airbase, Moscow’s decision to reduce its military involvement in Syria has already been welcomed by the Syrian opposition currently negotiating in Geneva.

“If there is seriousness in implementing the withdrawal, it will give the talks a positive push,” said Salim al-Muslat, spokesman for the rebel High Negotiations Committee. “If this is a serious step it will form a major element of pressure on the regime, because the Russian support prolonged the regime. Matters will change significantly as a result of that.”

What is also important is that the move has been well received by all members of the UN Security Council, who have been working tirelessly on the diplomatic front to secure peace in Syria.

“We have also taken very good note of the decision by the Russians to start withdrawing part of these forces,” the Security Council’s rotating president, Angola’s Ambassador Ismael Abraao Gaspar Martins, told reporters. “When we see forces withdrawing, it means war is being taking a different step. So that’s good.”

However, despite the careful timing of Putin’s announcement that is clearly aimed at cementing the fragile ceasefire in Syria, the Kremlin’s decision has been called “a surprise move,” by the New York Times, which hypothesizes that the Russian decision was conditioned by the rift between Moscow and Damascus.

“There have been growing signs of differences between Russia and the Syrian government over the Geneva talks, which Moscow has pressed hard for along with Washington,” NYT wrote.

In reality the Russian initiative to withdraw received full support from the Syrian government before the announcement was made.

“The president of Syria noted the professionalism, courage and heroism of the Russian service personnel who took part in the military operations, and expressed his profound gratitude to Russia for providing such substantial help in fighting terrorism and providing humanitarian assistance to the civilian population,” the Kremlin said commenting on the phone call between Putin and Assad.

The Wall Street Journal has dubbed Moscow’s withdrawal an “unexpected announcement.”

“US officials said any withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria would come as a complete surprise and that the US government hadn’t expected Moscow to announce such a move,” WSJ said.

Stratfor, a global intelligence think tank, has also used the term “unexpected withdrawal,” to describe Putin’s decision. At the same time, their report acknowledged that Moscow has achieved its stated agenda.

“With their actions in Syria thus far, the Russians have showcased their improved combat capabilities and some new, previously unused weapons… Russia has also largely achieved its goal of weakening Islamic State…” the Stratfor report reads. “All in all, Islamic State may not be entirely defeated, but its forces in Syria and Iraq are much weaker than they were five months ago.”

9,000 sorties, 400 localities freed: What Russia has achieved during its 5-month Syria operation


A Su-30 SM aircraft prepares to take off from the Hmeimim airbase in the Latakia Governorate of Syria. © Ramil Sitdikov
As Russia’s Vladimir Putin announced the start of the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has reported the anti-terror operation’s achievements to the Commander-in-Chief.

“Backed by our aviation, Syrian forces have freed 400 populated areas and over 10,000 square kilometers [3,860 square miles] of territories,” Shoigu said during a Kremlin meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

Terrorists have been forced out from Latakia and Aleppo, and Palmyra has been “blocked,” the military official reported to Putin, saying that military actions to free the UNESCO heritage site from militants continue. Hama and Homs Provinces in central Syria have been largely mopped up, and Kuweires airbase that had been besieged by terrorists for over three years was retaken.

Saying that Russia’s Air Force in Syria has conducted more than 9,000 sorties starting from September 30, 2015, the Defense Minister added that for the first time massive strikes at a range over 1,500 kilometers [930 miles] with both air and ship-launched missiles have been conducted.

With Russia’s support from the air, the Syrian army managed to retake control of oil and gas fields near Palmyra. Three large fields have already started functioning in normal mode, the minister added. In all, 209 oil production facilities and almost 3,000 oil delivery vehicles have been destroyed by Russia’s airstrikes.

“As a result of airstrikes, terrorists’ resources’ provision has been largely cut,” Shoigu told Putin, saying that petroleum trade routes with Turkey, as well as main routes of weapons provisions to terrorists have been blocked.

The Russian campaign also reduced the threat posed to Russia by Islamic militants, as over 2,000 fighters from Russia have been “eliminated” in Syria, including 17 field commanders.

To strengthen the progress achieved, Russian continues the aerial monitoring of the ceasefire’s observance.

“A fairly large number of unmanned aerial vehicles – over 70 – are being used for this purpose, as are all means of gathering intelligence, including electronic intelligence and our satellite constellation,” Shoigu stated.

The Aleppo Pocket: Turkey Running Out of Time for Its Plans to Invade Syria

Syria's General Fahd Jassem al-Freij (C), Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the Armed Forces and Minister of Defense allegedly visiting troops in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. (File)


The Syrian Army has made major advances in Aleppo province, and is on the brink of surrounding the militant-held portion of the city of Aleppo, cutting off trade routes between the jihadists, Turkey and Daesh to boot. Now, Expert magazine suggests, Turkey’s hints at intervention signal that the Ankara-backed militants are running out of time.

The northern Syrian city of Aleppo is the country’s second city (and before the war in Syria began, its largest). In the last few months, the situation in the city, contested by government and rebel forces, has turned 180 degrees.

Backed by Russian aviation, the Syrian Army first managed to reopen the roads to the government-held sections of the city, and then, earlier this month, to cut the road links to the rebel held portion, “effectively cutting off the rebels there,” Sputnik columnist Alexander Mercouris has explained.”The Syrian army’s success,” the columnist noted, “has been made all the greater because at the start of January the rebels sent reinforcements to Aleppo to resist what they expected would be a government offensive there. Now those reinforcements, together with the rebel fighters previously in the city, are encircled and trapped.”

Moving forward, as the Syrian Army and allied local militias, plus Syrian Kurdish forces in the country’s north, move to take control of the Syrian-Turkish border, and to cut off the rebels’ supply routes with both Turkey to the north and the Daesh terrorists to the east, the regional operation is turning out to have implications for the entire Syrian theater. This, in turn, “has given impetus to all sorts of geopolitical tremors,” military analyst and Expert magazine contributor Pyotr Skarabahaty explains.

In a detailed analysis of the situation on the ground, the journalist suggests that the Aleppo operation has already had major political implications for the region, leading to the so-called ‘moderate’ Islamists walking out on the Geneva peace talks, to a reassessment of the situation by Washington, and to a new narrative in Western media “about tens of thousands of Syrian civilians fleeing evil Russian bombs.”

“The situation is changing almost every day,” Skarabahaty writes, “but so far [Damascus and Moscow have] the strategic initiative, interfering with regional and Western powers ability to facilitate an appropriate response” to reinforce the jihadists.

The Balance of Forces in Syria: Legend: (Pink) Government Forces; (Grey) Daesh; (Aquamarine) Kurds; (Green) Militants; (White) Desert; (Yellow Stripes) Activity of Turkish Forces. (Ship) Logistical Support Point of the Russian Navy; (Plane) Russian Air Base; (Red Arrow) Direction of Syrian Army Offensives (Blue Arrow) Direction of Kurdish Offensives; (Downed Plane) Location of the Turkish-Downed Su-24; (Black Plane Outline) Possible Russian Air Base; (Blue Plane Outline) Possible US Air Base
“The Balance of Forces in Syria”: Legend: (Pink) Government Forces; (Grey) Daesh; (Aquamarine) Kurds; (Green) Militants; (White) Desert; (Yellow Stripes) Activity of Turkish Forces. (Ship) Logistical Support Point of the Russian Navy; (Plane) Russian Air Base; (Red Arrow) Direction of Syrian Army Offensives (Blue Arrow) Direction of Kurdish Offensives; (Downed Plane) Location of the Turkish-Downed Su-24; (Black Plane Outline) Possible Russian Air Base; (Blue Plane Outline) Possible US Air Base

“The Syrian Arab Army (the SAA),” the journalist explains, “still does not have enough forces for a massive offensive on all fronts, and Russian aviation’s participation too, is limited. Therefore, while Assad’s forces and allied militias press against the militants in one part of the country (until recently – in Latakia, and in the province of Daraa to the south), in others they accrue their strength. Intense preparations for the operations outside Aleppo were conducted over several weeks, featuring the massing of infantry and mechanized units, including missile systems, rocket launchers and Russian-delivered T-90s with trained crews.”

“But where exactly the [Syrian and Russian] allies would strike was unclear, and this was extremely unnerving to the extremists – after all, there were many possibilities. However, in hindsight we can say that the united General Staff has not deviated from the general line: the main task of the first phase of the operation is to close the Syrian border with Turkey and with Jordan, through which arms and jihadist volunteers flow into the country.”

“Damascus struck to Aleppo’s northwest toward the Shiite enclave cities of Nubl and Zahraa, which for over four years had been surrounded by the jihadists. In this operation, a new SAA tactic stood out: to bypass well-fortified positions, to search for weak spots in the area, and drive a mechanized wedge into the area following softening up by artillery and air power. Then, the army returns to the fortified area, but from the rear. In a few days, dozens of settlements were captured, and the land bridge was reinforced from counterattacks.”

“The advance,” Skarabahaty recalled, “was supported by the so-called ‘Afrin’ Kurds of the northwestern Kurdish Syrian canton and city of Afrin. Judging by the nature of the interaction and active assistance to the Kurds from Russian air power, this coalition was not formed by chance, but was successfully coordinated by the Russian general staff. As a result, the Kurdish forces took control of a number of cities, in spite of their difficult relations with the regular army, and organized joint patrols and checkpoints.””Here in general, we can complement [Russia’s] military planners, who had been planning for the Syrian operation over the past six months,” the journalist noted. “Their efforts remain invisible to the layman, but are critical to success and the minimization of losses on the front.”

“It’s difficult to imagine how much effort has been expended to create a single operational plan ensuring cooperation between the motley crew of the pro-Assad coalition, featuring Lebanese, Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian, and Kurdish militias and armies, Shiites and Sunnis, different national groups, units with varying degrees of training, experience and equipment, not to mention logistics, and transport. The high level of professionalism of Russian military advisors is clear.”

This week, Skarabahaty  noted, “the SAA and the Kurdish militia are continuing their push to expand the corridor to the south and to the north, although the speed of this effort has slowed significantly in favor of strengthening what has already been secured.””The jihadist districts of Aleppo have come under threat, previously fighting it out for months with army units in difficult conditions featuring a dense concentration of buildings and underground tunnels.”

Importantly, Skarabahaty says, “the army is obviously moving in the direction of the north toward the Turkish border. Here, the Islamists quickly strengthen their southern approaches and receive reinforcements from Turkey. The army’s ultimate goal is to take the border ‘under lock and key’; this is a major factor geopolitically, causing a sharp anxiety among Ankara and its allies.”

“What’s so important about this corridor for the anti-Assad front? First, as has already been said, it is here that weapons and militants make their way to Syria, and in large quantities. Of course, Idlib province (to Aleppo’s southwest) has a much longer border with Turkey; therefore speaking of the situation as a ‘pocket’ is not entirely appropriate. The essence is in the convenience of logistics. It is Aleppo province which features wide highways, established border crossings and smuggling routes. And the portion of the city of Aleppo which is not controlled by Damascus serves as a major logistics hub for the flow of terrorists to other areas. The Idlib border is much less convenient, with mountain ranges making it impossible to pass large parties [of weapons, of fighters] through.”

​”But no less important,” the analyst notes, “is the logistics route which once passed through the area – through which an active trade [of food and oil] took place between the jihadists and Daesh.”

“The agreements, concluded with Ankara’s participation, provided for Daesh oil to be transported to the northern Syrian province, in exchange for food. In this way, for both sides, the trade route literally served as a ‘lifeline’, because the territory under Daesh’s control consists mainly of oil fields, while pro-Turkish groups occupy relatively fertile land, but without energy deposits and processing facilities.”

The Syrian operation to cut off this trade route, Skarabahaty writes, “has already led to warnings from journalists in the jihadist-controlled areas of Idlib and Aleppo provinces about the difficult situation on the ground: without fuel supplies, food plants running on diesel generators have stopped, as have transport and the service industry; light and electricity, dependent on the same generators, has also been cut. But what they remain silent about is that the jihadists’ military equipment has also been put on a starvation diet of fuel.”At the same time, with 50,000 refugees fleeing for Turkey in connection with the Syrian offensive, “Ankara,” the journalist warns, “is sounding the alarm and calling on the whole world to pay attention to the crisis which it says was ‘triggered by the Russian air strikes’. Border crossings have been closed, crowds accumulate and a picture of a ‘humanitarian apocalypse’ is being presented in the Western media.”

“It seems,” Skarabahaty continues, “that this card will soon be played by Ankara and the West to put pressure on the Syrian-Russian coalition – and perhaps serve as a pretext for a ground invasion.”

The reality, the journalist suggests, Turkey’s refusal to allow a Russian observation flight over Turkey last week under the Open Skies Treaty signals that Russia fully understands what Ankara is up to.”The fact is that Russian specialists had deliberately proposed a flight path to their foreign colleagues indicating that the nature of Ankara’s plans is absolutely clear to the Russian General Staff, and that the reaction to follow may be extremely tough.”

Last week, citing Syrian images showing Turkish self-propelled artillery units on the Syrian border, Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov stressed that Russia “considers Turkey’s move as a dangerous precedent and an attempt to hide its illegal military activity on the border with Syria.”

Meanwhile, Skarabahaty explains, from Ankara’s point of view, the task of “creating a buffer zone on its southern borders is a task of paramount importance; the question which arises is whether the zone will be located on Turkish or Syrian territory. With Russia’s entry into the conflict, hopes of overthrowing the Syrian government have vanished; Ankara had relied on jihadists under its control, but has now been forced to set up blocking detachments to prevent militants fleeing from Russian air strikes coming back into Turkey.”

“The other uses for the buffer zone include keeping the Kurdish offensive at a distance, preventing the two Kurdish enclaves in northwest and northeast Syria from uniting. Finally, a hypothetical zone of influence is important for trading with Daesh and supplying it with fighters.”

“The Russian warning,” via the proposed overflight, Skarabahaty argues, “has held back the Turkish initiative, but has not resolved the problem: With each new territory in northern Aleppo taken by government forces and their allies, the less time Turkey has left to intervene on Syrian territory. Because it is one thing to seize territory controlled by the militants, and quite another to get involved in a fight with the SAA or the Kurds, the latter actively cooperating with the US.””The choice can be put as follows: whether Turkey is ready to act unilaterally with the tacit support of the West, or agree on an initiative to align with the US coalition.”

Unfortunately, with the Erdogan government effectively blackmailing Brussels by threatening to ‘dump’ its refugees on Europe, “the EU may decide to close its eyes on a Turkish military operation, as it has already done with the growing carnage in the Kurdish areas of Turkey.” The German chancellor’s remarks on being ‘shocked by the suffering of tens of thousands’ due to Russian airstrikes indicates that “she is willing to play this game,” Skarabahaty noted.

Ultimately, the analyst argues, “it’s important to understand that a Turkish intervention would not mean a direct military confrontation between Turkey and Russia. It’s very likely, [instead], that we will see another episode of a hybrid war; and it cannot be excluded that, hardened by four years of war, Assad’s forces, equipped with Russian tanks, will be able to rebuff the Turks.”

After all, as official Damascus has already warned, “any military intervention without the Syrian government’s consent will be perceived as aggression. In this connection, invaders will have to be sent home in coffins.”At the same time, Skarabahaty warned that the danger stemming from the US’s off-again on-again, befuddled policy with regard to the conflict in Syria should not be discounted. In any case, Washington’s alliance of convenience with the Kurds, and its growing ideational conflict with Ankara have complicated things; the question is whether the US is willing to abandon the Kurds in favor of Ankara and Erdogan.


Matter of Trust: Russia to Investigate Turkish Military Activity

Turkish soldier handles a national flag at the monument of Sukru Pasa, a national hero who defended Edirne region during the Balkan War in 1913, in Edirne, western Turkey (File)

Russia is preparing to conduct an official military inspection in Turkey, Sergei Ryzhkov, head of Russia’s National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, told the media.

“From February 2 until February 5, a Russian team of inspectors intends to conduct an inspection of a designated area in Turkey – about 18,000 square kilometers in total – in order to promote mutual trust and security in accordance with the Vienna Document of 2011,” Ryzhkov said, according to RIA Novosti.

He also added that the inspection’s goal is to confirm the scale and nature of the officially declared military activity in the specified area of the country, as Russian inspectors will be allowed to visit military ranges and will be briefed by high-ranking Turkish military officials.According to Ryzhkov, a group of Spanish military specialists will conduct a similar inspection in Russia’s Rostov Region during the same time.

“From February 2 until February 5, Spain will conduct an inspection of a designated area in Russia in accordance with the Vienna Document of 2011. The inspection will take place in a roughly 15,000 square kilometer area in the Rostov Region, as per the request of the Spanish side. The Spanish inspectors will be briefed by the commanders of the military units deployed in the area regarding the aforementioned units’ status, size and the nature of activity they’re engaged in,” he said.

The upcoming inspections will be conducted within the framework of the Vienna Document, an agreement between the participating states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe aimed at implementing confidence and security-building measures.

The document stipulates an annual exchange of military information about forces located in Europe, notifications for risk reduction including consultation regarding unusual military activities and hazardous incidents, the observation of certain military activities, as well as compliance guidelines and rules requiring verification via inspection and evaluation visits.


Fighting the Evil: Syrian Army Liberates Villages in Aleppo Suburbs

Government forces chat near a tank three kilometres from the Shiite villages of Nabbul and Zahra in Syria's northern Aleppo province which have been under siege by the Islamic State (IS) group for three years on February 2, 2016

The Syrian Army and the country’s National Defense Forces have reportedly won new victories over militant groups in several key provinces, including Latakia and Aleppo, in the last 24 hours.

Over the past 24 hours, new military gains have been made by the Syrian Army and the country’s National Defense Forces (NDF) in the key provinces, including Latakia and Aleppo, media reports said.On Tuesday, Syrian troops managed to capture two strategic villages: Doweir al-Zaytun and Tell JaLibin near the town of Paschkoa in Aleppo Province’s northern area, with other army units winning back a key mountain in a region of Latakia that borders Turkey to the north.

“The main objective of this phase is to seal the northeastern corner of Lattakia province and build a frontline at the strategic city of Jisr al-Shughour,” the sources were quoted by the Iranian news agency FARS as saying.

In Aleppo, the army’s new advance came after Syrian forces cut two main supply lines of Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) terrorists in the province’s north, according to the sources.

“The Masqan-Aleppo and Haras-Al-Bab roads, used by the ISIL terrorists as two main supplying routes, were cut in the attacks of the Syrian fighter jets and the army’s artillery units,” army sources said.

Also on Tuesday, the Syrian Army continued its offensive against militants in other key provinces across Syria, including Damascus, Homs, Deir ez-Zor and Quneitra, where dozens of terrorists were killed and many more wounded.

In the southern province of Sweida, the Syrian fighter jets, supported by the Russian air strikes, bombed a column of Daesh oil tankers in the southeastern part of the village of Shaef,” the sources said, adding that most of oil tankers were destroyed and Daesh militants guarding the convoy were also killed in the air strikes.Russia’s ongoing air campaign in Syria was launched on September 30, when more than fifty Russian warplanes, including Su-24M, Su-25 and Su-34 jets, commenced precision airstrikes on Daesh and Al-Nusra Front targets in Syria at the behest of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In addition, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed earlier this month that advanced, super-maneuverable Su-35S multirole fighters had begun their combat mission in Syria.


The Spoils of War: US Worried Anti-Daesh War Will End Without Their ‘Help’

Iraqi, US and Spanish soldiers participate in a training mission outside Baghdad, Iraq


On Friday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that elements of the 101st Airborne Division would deploy to Iraq and Syria to help crush Daesh. For their part, Russian military experts are convinced that the US operation is merely an attempt to get in on the action before the war ends, so that Washington can share in the spoils of victory.

“They will head there with the support of the American people and armed with a clear campaign plan to help our allies deliver the barbaric organization a lasting defeat,” Carter wrote, in an article published by US politics newspaper Politico.According to the defense secretary, the primary objective of the mission, estimated to involve about 1,800 US troops from the 101st Airborne Division, will be to force Daesh out of their two power centers in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqah, Syria.

In a subsequent interview for CNBC at Davos, also on Friday, Carter emphasized the urgency of the operation. “We need to destroy them in those two places, and I’d like to get on with that as soon as possible,” he clarified.

The deployment, which has already been discussed with US Central Command and the commanders of the 101st Airborne Division, now awaits Congressional authorization.

For his part, Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riad Haddad has already indicated that Damascus will object to the Pentagon’s plans in the strongest possible form. “Any interference in Syria’s affairs, without the consent of the Syrian government, is looked upon as aggression against the Syrian people,” Haddad said, cited by Russian media.

In the wake of statements by the Obama administration as late as a month ago that the US would not entangle itself in a new war in Iraq and Syria, independent Russian newspaper Svobodnaya Pressa suggested that “perhaps the successes of the Russian air campaign in Syria have forced the White House to make adjustments to its Middle Eastern game plan.”Speaking to the newspaper, Mikhail Alexandrov, an expert at the Center for Military-Political Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, suggested that “indeed, the US truly is concerned that Syrian troops, with the support of Russian air power, have begun winning.”

“Washington urgently needs to do something; otherwise, they might end up being late when it comes to the carving up of the Syrian ‘pie’,” when the war ends, the analyst grimly noted. “The situation is reminiscent of that in 1944, when the Western allies landed in Normandy in order to capture Western Europe, preventing the Soviet Union from taking all of Europe.”

“Now, the US has a similar challenge: to prevent Russia from becoming the dominant power in Syria. If Syrian forces, supported by Russian air power, reach the Iraqi border, Baghdad is likely to begin operating with an eye to Moscow, Damascus and Tehran. As a result, the entire region will come under the control of the control of the US’s geopolitical competitors – Russia and Iran. Clearly, the Americans would not be satisfied with such a situation.”

The US, the expert notes, is acting according to their own interest. “Under the pretext of fighting Daesh in Iraq – such assistance has the approval of Baghdad, the US will try to defeat Daesh on Iraqi territory, and then move operations onto Syrian territory. For this, they will need to a legal basis. For example, [they might say they are in] ‘hot pursuit of gangs of international terrorists.'”For its part, Alexandrov suggests, “Russia, obviously, is not going to bomb the Americans. And they will gradually advance, occupying parts of Syria not controlled by Assad’s forces.”

“For now, all parties in the Syrian conflict pay lip service to the idea of the country’s territorial integrity. But if one looks at the situation objectively, Syria has been split into three communities: Shiite-Alawite, Sunni and Kurdish. And ‘gluing’ these communities back together into one country will be possible only by force.”

“This,” the analyst noted, “is how Bosnia and Herzegovina were ‘glued’ back together in their own time. But Bosnia and Herzegovina are in Europe; moreover, they were surrounded on all sides by NATO forces. Together, this helped to impose a certain reconciliatory attitude on the warring parties. In Syria, obviously, such a scenario will be impossible – if only because Daesh is a completely uncontrollable structure which will not defer to anyone.”

As far as Russia is concerned, the expert suggested that for its part, Moscow “has no reason to fight [a ground war] in the desert. Our strategic objectives will be achieved if we control the nominal Shiite-Alawite-Christian ‘axis’ stretching from Damascus to Aleppo. This region is already factually under the Syrian government’s control. And if it is kept, we will keep all the benefits of our participation in the Syrian war.”

“In this case, Russian military bases will be deployed in Syria, posing a threat to NATO’s southern flank – and particularly to Turkey, which has always been hostile to Russia. More importantly, we will have fulfilled our historic mission – of defending the Syrian Christians and Alawites against genocide.”

Moreover, Alexandrov noted, “if the Americans want to do some fighting in the Iraqi desert, by all means let them do it. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about in this regard. It’s worth recalling that the Americans have been in Iraq since 2003, and a new ground operation, from our point of view, will not be able to change the alignment of forces in the region.””Furthermore, such an operation will pull the US into a serious showdown with the terrorists, and as a result the Americans will come to bear the brunt of the fight against Daesh, something we can only welcome.”

Russia’s main goal, Alexandrov emphasized, is “not to allow the Americans from knocking Assad’s forces back to the Mediterranean.” Russia must assist the Syrian government in defeating the terrorists in Aleppo, and “create a perimeter defense of the Alawite-Shiite-Christian area – in short, to make sure that American troops do not stick their nose where it doesn’t belong.”

“Afterwards, Syria can be saved as a state as a confederation – and let their communities decide among themselves on the conditions for living together. The process might drag on for decades, as with the situation involving the unification of East and West Germany.”

The US operation in Syria, which the expert suggests, could get off the ground in as little as three months, could be similar to the ongoing Russian operation to assist Syrian government and Kurdish forces. “To begin, they will block off these cities [Mosul and Raqqah], with local forces then beginning an assault, supported, of course, by the US Air Force. These are the same tactics that Russia is using in Syria. The only difference is that the Americans will also bring artillery to bear [against the terrorists].”

For his part, Alexei Fenenko, a senior fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for International Security, told Svobodnaya Pressa that the operation, if it is a serious one, may take time to really get off the ground.”Carter did not define exactly what constitutes a ground operation,” Fenenko noted. “After all, the participation of one battalion can be considered participating in such an operation. But carrying out a large-scale combined arms campaign would immediately raise a series of problems.”

“First, Washington would have to negotiate with its allies on the deployment of US forces, and this is not something which happens overnight. The deployment itself will require three to four months. And the spring is the beginning of the sandstorm season in Iraq, so the weather will not be very conducive to a campaign. Therefore, I do not rule out that the US will limit itself to the participation of small American units.”

In his own analysis, published in Russian business magazine Expert, geopolitics analyst Gevorg Mirzayan suggested that fear of the influence of its geopolitical opponents, more than any other factor, explains Washington’s anxiousness and its penchant for a ground campaign.

“If we were talking only about the destruction of the Daesh terrorists, the Americans could very well make do with bombing, liquidating Daesh’s lines of communications and the steady destruction of the militants’ manpower. This would help the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Syrians, Hezbollah and the Iranians to destroy Daesh’s military infrastructure on the ground and to free the cities held by the terrorists, thus restoring the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria.”

“However,” Mirzayan explains, “such a scenario is unacceptable for Washington. Firstly, such a minor role in a matter as serious as the destruction of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization would raise questions about whether the United States can continue to maintain its role of the leader of the world community, and whether other nations should continue to pay their loyalties to Washington. Or perhaps they will begin paying more attention to the powers which have exerted a far greater effort against Daesh – Russia and Iran?”

“Secondly, the US cannot just sit back and observe while Iran, combating Daesh on the ground, strengthens its positions in Syria and especially, Iraq (where all the recent successes of the Iraqi army are associated primarily with Iranian advisors). This process raises serious questions among the US’s regional allies – Tel Aviv and Riyadh, allies who were promised that the Iranian nuclear deal would not lead to a transfer of control of the Middle East to Tehran.””If, in Saudi Arabia and Israel, the number of proponents of the view that the US had turned a blind eye to Iran’s creeping capture of the Middle East reaches a critical mass, it cannot be excluded that these countries will decide to take unilateral action against Iran, which could threaten the US-Iranian nuclear compromise.”

Ultimately, with direct US operations in Syria a major risk (given the use of Russian air power there), Mirzayan suggests that what the US will try to do is to stand back and use local forces to do the job.

“In Iraq, such forces can be found among local Sunni leaders, with whom the Americans have had close ties since the period of occupation…But who will fight for the Americans in Syria? The secular militants [in northwestern and southwestern Syria], far from Raqqah? Or the Syrian Kurds, who a) have reached agreements with the Iranians, the Syrians and the Russians, and b) are not ready to shake hands with another member of the American coalition – Turkey, which until recently had been engaged in the bombing of the Kurds?”