A Pathological December

December GEOPOLITIC

It was a hot and dry end to the year in the antipodes — but it will be remembered as cold and glum, a despotic milieu too heavy to emulate in word: in a month of global relations’ rapidly cooling. It was a month which saw the retaking of Mosul stall; a month revelatory for building an imperial base in the Holy Land; and a month of missile installations in Russia. But it was mostly a month of United Nations’ abominations. It was the last month and the last Christmas — the last December before the Time of Jacob’s Trouble:

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

It was a month to implore the podean to hold their head high, keep their hands warm and their oil-lamps full:

10 Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

It was a month for abysmal weather and abysmal decrees at the United Nations —  having declared a day, as by some malevolent spirit, “Palestine Day”, adopting against Israel six resolutions — part of its annual rite of enacting 20 Arab-sponsored resolutions to single out the Jew. It was a month the Temple Mount came into sharp focus.

It was a month that saw the culmination of a post-Soviet Muslim revival in Russia, and a month of Russian revanchism:

And it was a month of something rotten in the state of Mosul [Nineveh]: 54,000 (Iraqi) troops and 5,000 (US) servicemen—supported by 90 warplanes and 150 heavy artillery pieces—could not defeat 9,000 jihadists. A month, apparently, when the god of mathematics slept in (or Apollyon got out).

And so it was a month of the inexplicable undeniable:

The failure of the US-backed Iraqi army offensive to liberate Mosul—nine weeks after it began—[can] no longer be denied when a delegation of ISIS chiefs arrived there Sunday, Dec. 4, traveling unhindered from Raqqa, Syria. … they arrived to discuss how to synchronize the operations of the two jihadist strongholds, after the Islamist leaders occupying Mosul changed course about leaving the city and decided to stay put.

It was a month of wonders and signs, of fire from heaven.

[Wikimedia Commons]
[Image source: SBS Australia. Original graphic by AFP]
It was a month when Apollyon came early—out of hell’s pit itself—to deliver a tranche of armaments to the assassins in Mosul … boosting their defensive posture as they drew tactics “from the Battle of the Trench, a story narrated from Islamic history texts in which the Islamic Prophet Muhammad led 3,000 defenders of Medina to prevail over 10,000 Arab and Jewish troops in 627 A.D”

Battle of Mosul, as at December 7, 2016 [Wikimedia Commons]
It was a month of bad news — a fateful December. It was a month of little hope and less reason. It was a month to be forsaken, abandoned, and left alone. It was a month of little light. So I write then, brethren, of Ihsan al-Shammari, of the Iraq’s Centre for Political Thought, who said that:

It is a matter of time before Daesh are defeated inside Mosul. Their ammunition and equipment are being depleted.

It was a month, then, of platitudes and wishful thinking. For a rose by any other name may still smell as sweet. Yet—as I say—something is rotten in the state of Nineveh.

It was a month of a Turk, a Turk, but not Ataturk, in Al-Bad, Syria, where he should not be. It was a month of fingers thick and thumbs numbed.

It was a month of waiting for some sense, some common sense, to come from Israel. Alas, but none. The US army—it’s a good army is it not—will use the Israeli coast as a military base against troops nearby [against the Russians in Syria?]. A month in which the news broke that the US National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) subsections, the US military is to establish a maritime base in the Israeli coastal city of Haifa in the coming years. Attack! Attack! A month in which the “Authorization of United States assistance to Israel”, under section 1259 of the National Defence Authorisation Act for 2017, says that:

The maritime security and maritime domain awareness in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea are critical not only to the security of Israel but also to US national security interests and encourage the Department of Defence to continue efforts to develop and improve capabilities in these areas.

It was a month to be told that this law is valid unto 2021. 2021! Will the world not end by 2021? I mean, literally, end? Will I still write in 2021? Will you still read?

It was a month to bewail Damascus a ruinous heap:

It was a month of going to London to London to buy a fat hen, to hear spies speak of “commies under the bed”:

Britain’s head of MI6, Alex Younger, said that Russia’s military operations in Syria may have tragic consequences and endanger the security of Britain. In particular, he denounced Moscow’s bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo, saying “Russia seeks to make a desert and call it peace”. The spy chief asserted that the British people “cannot be safe from the threats that emanate from that land unless the civil war is brought to an end.” Younger made the comments at a closed meeting with journalists invited to MI6 headquarters in London.

It was a month of Jerusalem, a trembling cup betwixt my fattened fingers:

Israel’s security forces have broken up a Hamas terror cell that plotted a combined shooting attack and kidnapping in the Gush Etzion area, south of Jerusalem. Six Palestinians, residents of the town of Dura, the village of Tzurif and the city of Hebron, were arrested on suspicion of setting up the network. They were found with many weapons including two Kalachnikov rifles, two M16 rifles, three handguns and a hunting rifle, as well as magazines and ammunition. The arrests have been extended until the conclusion of the legal proceedings against the suspects, with an indictment to be filed soon at a military court. The terror cell was broken up in a joint operation by the IDF, the border police and the Shin Bet domestic security service.

It was a month of elects making the most of the lamest of duck, while the dark king himself keeps running amuck:

US President-elect Donald Trump announced Wednesday that retired Marine Gen. John Kelly is his nominee for secretary of homeland security. Kelly is the third retired general to be picked for Trump’s administration following Defense Secretary-designate James Mattis and National Security Advisor-designate Michael Flynn. The president-elect is considering choosing a fourth retired general, David Petraeus, as secretary of state. Trump also announced on Wednesday that he had tapped Linda McMahon as head of the Small Business Administration, after emphasizing the importance of the small business sector during the campaign. The 69-year-old McMahon, a billionaire who made her fortune as a co-founder of the World Wrestling Entertainment franchise, was one of the most significant contributors to Trump’s campaign.

It was a month of dalliances with the pleasant land:

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu will meet Thursday in Jerusalem with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras and the president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades. The three leaders previously met in Nicosia in January. The official announcement from Netanyahu’s office said the meeting is aimed at “strengthening stability and establishing a regular framework for countries with common interests. A trilateral research and development agreement will also be signed in order to advance joint projects.” DEBKAfile’s sources report that Netanyahu, Tsipras and Anastadiades will also discuss cooperation in defense of critical subsea infrastructure, namely a gas pipeline and optical communication lines placed near the bottom of the Mediterranean.

It was a month that saw men of war delivered by bird into battle:

Russia began to deploy Chechen Special Ops forces into Syria. These units have extensive experience in urban warfare, including recent combat experience in eastern Ukraine and against radical Islamic forces in Chechnya. Reporting to the Khankala base, east of the Chechen capital Grozny, the soldiers are being vetted for suitability aiming to recruit a one-thousand-man strong force to be flown the 1200km directly by Ilyushin-76 (NATO codename: Candid) transport planes to Russia’s Hmaimim Air Base in Syria. This will be Russia’s first deployment of ground troops of any substance in Russia.

[Image: Waazon]
It was a month of their fallen comrades— three Russian servicemen (including a colonel) in Syria. Russia had previously restricted herself to sending only small groups of Spetsnaz (special forces) troops, confined to guarding Russian military, air and missile facilities in Syria.

It was a month of locusts, retaking Palmyra:

It was a month of Turks, streaming into Syria:

It was a month that raised the spectre of Sino-Russian trigger-fingers:

Yoshkar-Ola is 600 km to Moscow’s east whilst Kozelsk is about 250 km to her southwest.

Here’s a map, with the two regions marked; it’s one I prepared earlier:

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And a scaled-down version of the same map, to more aptly reflect the “IC” nature of these BMs:

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It was a month of imminent financial Armageddon.

It was a month of the coming financial collapse:

It was a month, at last, of liberation Aleppo:

Short comfort, indeed, for it was a month of assassination in Ankara; of fires put out within Israel while a “rim of fire” surrounds her; of a renewed Ukraine offensive in Luhansk.

It was a month of a world asleep and a world awash, the post-festive flotsam and jetsam lapping the inhabitants comfortably numb. It was a month of migrant drownings — rounding off 5,000 in the Mediterranean for the year. It was a month of months. It was the very last month.

It was a month where the colours of sinful showed through.

It was a month diabolical, fiendish, pitch black. It was a month to say may G-d bless Israel, America, and all who love truth; a month for flagellation, sackcloth and ash.

It was a month of pleas of mercy in the throneroom of Him that liveth for ever and ever.


Annotations

I do not write this lightly. It is not a personal attack, it is not trial by social media, nor is it partisan political polemic. It is a spiritual revelation. I write it now to crystallize in our collectives just what it is that we are facing, and to galvanise our resolve against it. At some point, we are going to have to call a spade a spade here. We can ignore this no longer: the elephant in the Oval Office. (And were we to finally rid it from that office, its pathology is such that it will rear its ugly head in another guise — be it directly through the UN or somehow else. It is the pathology of self-aggrandizement. It will not go away.) History shows that when we fail to correctly label the problem, and in a timely manner, the consequences are incalculable. And we’ve been dancing around the eggshells of political correctness such that we’ve lost our ability to enunciate the truth of a matter, to put our finger on it. Somebody needs to make the call and if that somebody is me, so be it. (I’d hope to be proven wrong but I have enough training in the field to suspect that I am right. The elephant in the room is the display of distinct psychopathic tendencies.) I do not ask that anybody agree with me, but each of us has the moral responsibility, if and when we come to the same conclusion, to get the word out. Perilous days lie ahead, not excluding the potential for a global obliteration. And the time to act is now.

Psychopathic / Sociopathic traits

  1. A disregard for laws and social mores
  2. A disregard for the rights of others
  3. A failure to feel remorse or guilt
  4. A tendency to display violent behavior

“Psychopaths … are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others, although they often have disarming or even charming personalities. Psychopaths are very manipulative and can easily gain people’s trust. They learn to mimic emotions, despite their inability to actually feel them, and will appear normal to unsuspecting people. Psychopaths are often well educated and hold steady jobs. Some are so good at manipulation and mimicry that they have families and other long-term relationships without those around them ever suspecting their true nature. When committing crimes, psychopaths carefully plan out every detail in advance and often have contingency plans in place. Unlike their sociopathic counterparts, psychopathic criminals are cool, calm, and meticulous. Their crimes, whether violent or non-violent, will be highly organized and generally offer few clues for authorities to pursue. Intelligent psychopaths make excellent white-collar criminals and “con artists” due to their calm and charismatic natures.”

References
Featured Image

Mosul, Iraq [Wikimedia Commons]

 

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East and West: when push comes to shove

It was some time in the bumbled, if not ill-advised intervention in Iraq, which was falling apart by 2003, and the Libyan and Syrian escapades of 2011-2012 that Putin’s view of the US as incompetent began to be replaced by a feeling of suspicion and mistrust – a feeling that what looked like ineptitude was a clever policy of destabilizing regions in order to gain control of them or garner some other unclear advantages, while saddling other states with the cleanup.

—The American Education of Vladimir Putin, Hill & Gaddy (2015)

We looked, a few days ago, at a number of short clips of Western officials talking tough (see You are Here), be it directly or tangentially, to Russia. Rounding out the picture, today we look at Russia and her reach. Despite her rhetoric, the United States is embedded in a unipolar world view (she cannot see beyond it). Russia and China appear equally adamant about their wish for multipolar global governance.

The Russian mindset is that NATO is surrounding Russia with a missile defense system (in eastern Europe) to neutralise any nuclear threat posed by Russia. By simultaneous naval containment of China’s east coast, America  can help entrench the West’s global preeminence — one which the West would use to erode Russian strength further and maintain a global power status quo for the remainder of the vaunted Asia century.

And we have now paved the way to what are early (somewhat beyond preliminary) tit-for-tat escalations.

An Asian century is hosting the rise of many middle-powers, all the while the West contends that it still can maintain its power of arbitration — it’s ability, as has been the case for most of the last century, to set the rules of commerce, diplomacy, and engagement. Yet among the rubble of the Middle East, the likes of Turkey, Israel, and Iran, are emerging from the plume as powers in their own right. It is no stretch of the imagination to see these three vying for regional honours. A Sunni conglomerate, led by Saudi Arabia and bound together as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), are doing their best to stymie, in particular, the ascent of Iran. For the moment, however, Iran seems to be regaining the upper hand — in Syria, in Iraq, and in Yemen.

For their part, Russia is looking to by-pass any NATO neutralising forces in order to maintain a deterrence position of her own. To their mind, this is borne out by observation of NATO missile movements into Baltic nations (Germany, Poland, Romania, and NATO talks with Estonia etc.) and her courting nations on Russia’s border — the Ukraine and Georgia among others. This is Russia’s great fear, President Putin has said so himself.

As push comes to shove, President Putin is well prepared to shove if he must.

When a fight is inevitable, you hit first.

The following videos discuss the defensive posture taken by Russia in Syria, visa-vis the S-300 and S-400 missile systems at Tartus and Khmeimim air base, as discussed here last week.

The bigger picture

NATO is working diligently toward full-spectrum dominance, recognising that war is fought on many fronts (battlespace) — Land, Sea, Air, Space, and Information. To that end, it has concentrated on restraining Russia and containment of China. And while gradually positioning itself to do just that, until now it has been content to embroil Russia in endless conflict and skirmish — “bait and bleed” — particularly with the mercenary du jour (Islamists) and in their cradle of chaos — the Middle East. The West is well aware of President Putin’s tendency for restraint until, finally, impetuousness win out. All the while, NATO is tightening the noose around Russia’s European border and at her underbelly.

[It’s unlikely that Russia will put up with this for much longer. President Putin saw the fins circling in the water some time ago. He is convinced that he has no other choice but to act.]

This game will go on until Russia takes the first major step — one that the West will use as pretext to commence their proceedings. Russia has no choice, she is being put in a choker hold. She will have to act. And that act can, and will, be used against her. Meanwhile, a war of attrition — the long war — is backed up by a missile system in eastern Europe that is felt, by the West, to negate a superior Russian nuclear ICBM threat. Against the somewhat weaker Chinese, on the other hand, the modus operandi is pure containment, and then mostly financial (consider, also the TPP, which included almost all Pacific nations bar one (no prizes for guessing which), through control of the seas. The other facet of the agenda against the Chinese involves the allied Pacific nations, such as Japan and the Philippines.

[Ed: President Duterte’s recent rhetoric must be of some consternation to Washington.]

Weaken and busy Russia until the choker-hold is on, bogging her in Middle East wars against mercenaries and fomenting unrest in her backyard nations. This is — as the East sees it — the Western mindset. The Russian counter to this strategy involves asymmetric warfare: launch unconventional attacks from outlying pockets (Kaliningrad exclave, Syria, Iran). Needless to say, a high-risk high-reward game is at play. One side cannot see beyond a unipolar world, the other is restive under the constraints of the same unipolarity. The global consequences, with these two nuclear giants at cross-purposes, are frightening.

Common sense says it’s folly to poke a bear in the eye. Neither do empires die wondering.

—♣—

highly recommended
Further Reading
Featured Image

American journalist Charlie Rose interviews Russian President Putin – President of Russia, September 29, 2015

European Missile Crisis

October monthly geopolitical

We delegate — in large part — responsibility this month by way of interspersed videos throughout the wrap that help paint the picture and put you in the loop. The mainstream media cannot cover enough of these details in their nightly bulletins.

1962 saw the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now, the shoe’s on the other foot. [What goes around comes around, hombre.] Because of their modifiability, NATO missiles in Europe violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between Russia and the United States.

bg-russia-inf-chart-1-825_gif-png_heritage-org

Wikipedia has a good overview of the 60’s crisis, which saw Russia place missiles at America’s doorstep:

In response to the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961, and the presence of American Jupiter ballistic missiles in Italy and Turkey, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev decided to agree to Cuba’s request to place nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter future harassment of Cuba. An agreement was reached during a secret meeting between Khrushchev and Fidel Castro in July 1962 and construction of a number of missile launch facilities started later that summer.

That all ended well, thanks in large part to President John F Kennedy and Defense Minister Robert McNamara, in a triumph of sanity:

After a long period of tense negotiations, an agreement was reached between President John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for a U.S. public declaration and agreement never to invade Cuba again without direct provocation. Secretly, the United States also agreed that it would dismantle all U.S.-built Jupiter MRBMs, which were deployed in Turkey and Italy against the Soviet Union but were not known to the public.

Today, Russia is increasingly confronted by NATO’s defence missiles, Aegis Ashore, in eastern Europe. Sounds harmless enough — missiles for defence. These missiles, however, are designed to be quickly modifiable and are positioned to nullify particularly any potentially-nuclear cruise or ballistic missile launches from Russia.

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The NATO  missile deployments are shown here (above) protecting Europe from Iranian-launched missiles, which they will do, but it’s hard to think that they are not primarily designed to negate a first-strike threat from Russia.

Following the 9/11 attacks, American military doctrine shifted pointedly (codified in the 2002 National Security Strategy), with respect to weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) from one of deterrence to one of anticipatory attack — either preemptive (based on the belief that the adversary is about to attack) or preventive (launched in response to less immediate threats).

Eastern European Missile Defence Shield, shown schematically here defending an attack from Iran. [Image: One-Europe]
Just the other day, a flotilla, with Russia’s lone aircraft carrier, was paraded through the English channel. On its way to Syria, it seems, if nothing else than to escalate tensions there another notch. There is also news that Russia now is flirting with idea of Cuban bases.

Syria and Iraq

A very good wrap of the Syrian crisis as it has unfolded over the last year, essentially since Russia’s involvement, is found in the video directly below.

ISIS gained hold of Mosul, rumbling their way to a self-declared caliphate in February 2014. Two years later, and they’re about to be forced out by a motley crew of coalition forces centred on the Shiite Iraqi national forces. The ongoing Battle for Mosul, recently underway, is seen as a critical juncture in the war against ISIS. It could, however, be a case of one war ending and another beginning. Everyone’s scrapping for a political win here, including Turkey.

There are, however, reports that ISIS forces are being offered a safe passage of escape out of Mosul, by the West, to then go and fight in Syria:

Iraq’s volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) complained that the warplanes of the US-led coalition are allowing ISIL military convoys flee Mosul in Iraq’s Nineveh province to Syria without being harmed.

Much surprised the ISIL convoys that have been escaping from Mosul to Syria have not come under attack by the coalition fighter jets.

Jerusalem

Staying in the Middle East, UNESCO adopts controversial resolution on status of Jerusalem’s Old City. This is BAD, BAD news. It will almost certainly be used as pretext by the Vatican and others to convert Jerusalem into an international city, in the name of peace. This will only bring strife.

Venezuela — send in the clowns

To many Latin Americans, there is a well-worn theme of independent-minded South American nations being internally undermined by colour revolutions fomented by their big brother to the north. Others say it is the result of mismanagement. Either way, President Maduro may be the next in line to lose his job.

The Vatican, at the bequest of the Venezuelan political opposition, has called a “dialogue”. When the Vatican calls a dialogue, I can’t help but think that your number is up. Next thing, you wake up with your horse’s head in your bed*. You may as well call for Mr White (Reservoir Dogs). This is where Venezuela’s at. Syria’s President Assad called the Vatican hotline in 2012. Look how well that worked out for him.

[It’s hard to avoid the suspicion, at this juncture, that an admittedly mismanaged economy like Venezuela’s was sent under by a Saudi-American price-fixing arrangement that has seen the price of oil go from over USD100 a barrel to under USD50. This has hurt also the West’s other opponents, and Venezuelan allies, Russia and Iran.]

Finance
dreams & visions

I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed

There are murmurings of thoughts and visions and general trepidation that something might occur before the US Presidential election, some even going so far as to say that a state of martial law could be instituted before — and indefinitely delaying — the election. That is pure speculation at this stage. But in the times that we live, anything is possible.

Stay safe.

—♣—
Annotations

*It might be a stretch to say that this is a deliberate approach by the Vatican, rather it’s likely that the anachronistic Vatican simply has a Sidam’s touch when it comes to external affairs — something about politics and religion not mixing well. But that’s never stopped them before. Indeed the Vatican gets its power by its ability to ordain or bring down governments at its choosing. And coy politicians know that. (We’re all a servant to something — the question is to what or whom?)

[Ed: By their very nature, not all views expressed in the videos above can, or do, reflect the thoughts of Pilgrim Bobby. We are not, for instance, critical of Israel — and certainly not of the lay Israeli — as the final video (of the main section) may be. When put together, however, the images and sounds and discourse help create a meaningful mental picture of the current state of affairs that would otherwise be inaccessible from the reading of a single article or listening to a single interview, or watching the MSM for that matter.]

Further Reading
Featured Image

Tartus or bust

Russia has but one aircraft carrier. Yesterday she and eight other war ships and a naval submarine steamed by the cliffs of Dover, attracting just about the attention that they would have hoped for. The Admiral Kuznetsov is smaller but more heavily armed than a conventional carrier and it has had the odd engine malfunction in its 25-years of service, in which it has yet to see combat duties..

A symbolic move, perhaps. But It’s a bold move — not without some risk. If it comes off it will add to Russia’s position in the eastern Mediterranean, where she is looking to entrench herself, bolstered Levantine power-projection afforded by an air-base that lies further to the north and a Caspian flotilla to its east.

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Caspian flotilla missile trajectory to the Levant [Image: Islamabad Times]
The move, in these heady days, is again by President Putin, marching eight war ships and a puffing aircraft carrier [†] through the English Channel en-route to the eastern Mediterranean, to support the country’s combat capabilities there.

Russias defense minister, Sergei Shoigu:

Special focus will be made on safeguarding the security of maritime traffic and other types of maritime economic activity of Russia and also on responding to the new kinds of modern threats such as piracy and international terrorism.

Whatever happened to Russia’s withdrawal from Syria?

President Putin has clearly decided both that he can no longer trust the West and to play her at her own game. And the first casualty of war is the truth.

The flotilla is being escorted by one of its own battlecruisers, Peter the Great. It has also received an unsolicited escort from the British warship HMS Richmond from the Norwegian Sea and the Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan, also underway, to “man-mark” the ships.

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Peter the Great, a Kirov-class “battlecruiser”*, is a heavy missile cruiser flagship of Russia’s Northern Fleet, assigned the task to escort the Kuznetsov to the eastern Mediterranean. [Image: the real Syrian Free Press]
This is what the West had to say:

Britain’s Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon:

It’s being marked every step of the way by the Royal Navy and ships and planes of other Nato members as well.

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[Image: Daily Mail]
NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg:

Russia, of course, has the right to operate in international waters and this is not the first time we’ve seen this carrier group being deployed in the Mediterranean.

One English tabloid, on the other hand, took the news in its stride (as is its wont), basking in bravado to the point of hubris.

If he pulls it off — if the Kuznetsov makes it all the way to Syria — this will be another feather in the cap for President Putin, in these machinations (jockeying and pre-deployments) that serve as the prelude to a broader conflict. Obviously, Russia felt the imperative to chance their arm with this carrier’s voyage now.

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Syria’s short coastline is the only nominally-Russian friendly territory of the Mediterranean [Image: Mappery]
This may be a show of strength but it is also perhaps designed to provide some aerial support in the Mediterranean, where Russia has little footing. More importantly, an aircraft carrier at Tartus complements the air-base further north at Khmeimim (just southeast of Latakia). What is oft overlooked, with respect to Russia’s Syria campaign, is the ISIS-Chechen factor and its potential to trouble Russia. Putin perhaps felt that if ISIS not more readily confronted, it posed a significant threat up through the Caucasus.

map-showing-russian-air-base-at-khmeimim-syria-jpg_newcoldwar-org

Having moved forces into Syria last year, and with the fateful Western no-fly zone set up in Libya still raw in its mind, Russia has nullified any U.S. hope for setting up a no-fly zone in Syria. In fact, there is already a no-fly zone in Syria — but it is one imposed by Russia.

President Putin moreover has plainly remonstrated, if it wasn’t already clear, that a U.S. attack on Syria is a declaration of war on Russia. He long-since decided to break out of the status quo and take the bull by the horns. And, rightly or wrongly, for the last 12 months that is exactly what he has done — striking while the iron is still hot and positioning himself toward the centre of the chessboard (Russia can also project power onto the Levant from its Caspian Flotilla, as it did when targeting ISIS earlier in this campaign).

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An S-300 and S-400 fortified air-base near Latakia, an aircraft carrier soon to be in Tartus, and cruise missiles from the Caspian flotilla (not to mention S-300s in Iran) sets up nicely anti-access area denial (A2/AD) [Image: Daily Mail]
Below are various images taken from  Khmeimim (Hmeimim) air base over the last 12 months:

The black smoke belching out of the Kuznetsov’s funnel may reflect engines that run on heavy crude. Still, the great risk for the Russians is that the carrier, who has yet to see combat duty, breaks down mid-journey.

There is one other risk. This risk is perhaps less likely but it is a far greater risk.

Is this all part of an American agenda to bait Russia? Is this all within the calculations of the Asian pivot, to utilise a technique that may best be summed up as “bait ’em and bleed ’em”? Is Russia — and her at-times tempestuous leader — playing  to an over-arching, grandiose, and nefarious Western agenda?

Annotations

†The Admiral Kuznetsov was commissioned in 1990 and is presently Russias only aircraft carrier. Manned by a crew of 1,960, it has Granit anti-ship cruise missiles as well as Blade and Chestnut gun systems in its arsenal.

*Western defense commentators re-invented the term “battlecruiser” to describe these heavy missile cruisers, as they are the largest surface combatant warships in the world.

Further reading/viewing

Sources
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