After over six months of Russian direct military intervention President of Russian Federation V. Putin ordered Russian troops to partially withdraw from Syria. It was received as a surprise in the Western media especially that Russian involvement dramatically changed momentum of this war to Syrian advantage.
Below I continue part 2 of a brief examination of Russian accomplishments or failures, reasons for withdraw and whether or not it was premature. I will also address what are political ramification of this move are in context of the Syrian war and peace efforts as well as Russia strategic geopolitical interests in the region.
As a counter point for this discussion I used a comprehensive but a bit one-sided post published on a website Novorossia Today http://novorossia.today/z-tarcza-czy-na-tarczy/
[Google Translated and edited]
Novorossia Today continues:
Observing the course of combat operations of the Russian military in Syria, it is hard not to notice that policymakers in Moscow used military engagement of Russia in Syria, as a kind of training ground where the latest weapons systems could be tested in combat. Undoubtedly demonstration of the world combat capabilities of the Russian fleet turned out to be surprising [to the west]. Relatively small [navy] corvettes, frigates and cruise missile launching surface ships, operating out of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea launched latest [Hypersonic and Subsonic] cruise missiles called “Kalibr” NK successfully striking targets in Syria at distances nearly 2000 km with surgical precision. Similarly [western] specialists were surprised by possibility of launching missiles from torpedo tubes on [non-nuclear; diesel-electric] submarine 636 [platform] named “Rostov” repeatedly varying underwater Mediterranean launching positions of missiles destroying [many] command posts of the Islamic State.
However, priority of recognition [in showcasing the Russian war technology] should be given to invisible technology i.e. Russian GLONASS geo-positioning satellite navigation system [encrypted military grade], supporting Russia missiles’ guidance system used by TS-24 “Gefest” to turning cheap dumb bombs into guided precision ammunition with a precision of about 15 ft for 1/100th of the cost of US guided munitions. This device is standard equipment installed on new aircraft SU-34 as well as on upgraded 1970s designs of cheap SU-24M and SU-25SM warplanes. Thus the Russians radically reduced the cost of the military operation in Syria, while maintaining extremely high precision of bombing hits. The usage by the RF pilots of the Russian precise munitions, in a form of guided missile Kh-29 or laser-guided bombs KAB-500L and TS-24 made it possible to avoid mistakes during the bombings and hence unnecessary victims, especially among civilians.
As I mentioned on this blog before, conflict in Syria is undoubtedly a part of growing global geopolitical conflict between East and West, a part of no-so-cold war 2.0. And it is hard not to conclude that unleashing by Putin all the recent or even most recent war technology against sometimes even shoeless ISIL/ANF terrorists in Toyotas seems huge overkill and however helpful in Syrian war, addressed not the conflict at hand but geopolitical confrontation between NATO and Russia.
We seem to see a confirmation of that fact by recent US directives to overhaul of NATO military technologies deployed in Europe in view of Russian advanced military technology successfully demonstrated in Syrian conflict and that included killing of US Abrams M1A1 and A2 tanks by Russian guided AT missiles and combat effective electronic shield that protected Russian T90 and modernized T72 tanks from American TOW missiles numerous times demonstrated in the Syrian war.
The Russians proved so far that they are easily capable of defeating against NATO standard military equipment from guns to tanks to missiles, to aircraft, and brought to open what western military experts knew for a decade now that NATO is incapable to defeat Russians in Europe, and hence the rush of modernization making US/EU MIC happy.
Moreover, Russians proved that they can successfully support Syrian war effort with up to 50 times smaller expenses combined their equipment simplicity and interchangeability of training and gear and clearly demonstrated their long-term sustainability of high combat capabilities even when cut off or obstructed from outside supplies via means of embargo or sanctions.
While American generals shed they military uniforms for executive suits and together with SV narcissist megalomaniacs are massively defrauding US treasury by developing or pretending to develop Star Trek-like fancy and utterly combat useless military systems for trillions of US taxpayer money, Russian generals believe that any military equipment that cannot be fixed with one uninjured hand with a hammer or by pulling some part from another damaged device to work with another type of system, is worthless in real combat situation and hence must not be invested in. And Putin wholeheartedly agreed and supported that, by canceling many far off projects over last 10 years while US generals were peddling illusions for profit and F-35 or easily sinkable aircraft carriers or mind-boggling 15 billion nuclear submarines at 20 times cost of Russian boats meeting or exceeding offensive and defensive capabilities of those of US. are good example of astronomical fraud perpetrated on American citizen under cover of cold war and now farcical war on Putin terror.
Novorossia Today continues:
In contrast to Americans in Afghanistan or the Saudis in Yemen, Russians [largely] avoided the targeting blunders and international humanitarian law violations in Syria and never once bombed the hospital, weddings or school [although they have been accused of doing so numerous times without any evidences, as I pointed out on this blog]. The commander of the Air-Space Forces of Russian Federation, General Viktor Bondariew thanked the returning pilots for precision bombing of terrorists’s sites [mostly] that avoided mistakes and confusion, and for taking special care during performance of combat operations [to minimize] suffering of [Syrian] civilians. It is worth to remember the first large-scale application of Russians robotic armored vehicles, into real combat zone guided by UAS/satellite that was instrumental in overcoming fortified mountain position of terrorists from ANF in Latakia and Idlib provinces.
What is interesting that the only source so far that reports on alleged Russian bombings of civilian sites come from one sources namely SOHR run by a single person from his apartment in England. Surprisingly, this is a sole source for US and EU MSM including Reuters and AP, a shocking fact since none of claims were ever independently confirmed on the ground by IRC or other international, UN organizations but still repeated by HRC and even AI but not in Syria but in Turkey 1000 km from events.
Having said that I refuse to believe that there was no some collateral damage at least that there was not a single mistake in targeting even if ground based intelligence and air/satellite surveillance was conducted with utmost precision and care, what Russians seem to imply but not releasing any info about the subject, I guess not wanting to feed western MSM hysteria.
Novorossia Today continues:
According to the order of President Putin, the main part of the Russian expeditionary forces are to leave [and most of them did]. Commenting on the effects of over Russian 9000 weapon release combat sorties [in five months vs. NATO/Turkish/Saudi about 3600 weapon release combat (not counting reconnaissance and transport) sorties in 18 months] and the small size of the Russian forces [involved] in Syrian operations, one can only say an obvious that “so many owed so much to so few.” In contrast to over 130 combat aircraft made available to US allies in the Syriaq battle theater, on the Syrian skies Russians fought with 12 ground attack aircraft SU-25SM, 20 tactical bombers SU-24M, 8 modern attack aircraft SU-34. Additional tasks regarding surveillance, transport and security of combat missions were provided by 8-10 long-range fighter SU-30MK, 4 ultra-modern SU-35S. These aircraft operations were supported by approximately 15 assault helicopters MI-24P and Mi-35 transport and rescue MI-8 AMTSZ. Total approx. 70 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.
Did Russians really leave for good?
Of course not since the main objective of Russia n involvement in Syrian war was not only to prop up Assad regime but most of all defending Russian airbase, navy base and other installations in Syria as a strategic element of Russian interests in the Mediterranean.
Novorossia Today continues:
Probably the Russians will leave about 10 aircraft and several helicopters to supervise ceasefire agreement and cover the base. According to the command of Vladimir Putin’s “naval base in Tartus and Airbase at Chmejmim they have to work in the current regime and be protected properly from the sea, land and air.” On the base Russian left a “cure for the Turkish air force,” the long-range anti-aircraft squadron equipped with the S-400 “Triumph” and launchers “Pancyr” S1 and a group of navy ships led by the missile cruiser “Varyag”. It is worth remembering that in June of this year current fleet group will be replaced for just formed in Murmansk, Russia group of navy ships composed of the aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov”, nuclear-powered cruiser missile “Marshal Ustinov” , destroyer “Admiral Ushakov”, frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” escort and two submarines. Russians are always already to reactivate long-range strategic forces with their supersonic TU-22M3 and TU-160 [as they did before].
On the base at Chmejmim Russian left approximately 1,000 men and 70 UAS and all necessary means of communication needed for supervision of the conditions of ceasefire. In case of deterioration of the international situation in this area, the Russian Air Force could just as quickly return to Syria and re-commence operations on moment’s notice. As we can see in this international battle for control of Syria between western allies supporting terrorists and rebels and Russian coalition supporting Assad regime] Moscow so far comes out clearly as a winner.
I would not be so quick to judge while the war is still going on and especially the extrication or propaganda of extrication of Russian forces from Syria is shrouded in clouds of doubt about whether its impact on the conflict long-term will be as positive as we think right now.
One must however ask oneself a questions if, while Russian intervention has been undisputed military success, reliable or hopeful political avenues have been open toward ending of the war and five years of despicable terror Syrian people suffered from Western instigated proxies, mercenary armies unleashed against Assad regime using ANF, ISIL and other CIA financed rebels groups?
While many commentators’ arguments for Russian withdrawal or scaling down of Russian military involvement in Syrian war are rooted in facts and form consistent narrative they leave big holes in their rational thinking by limiting themselves to selected time and space range of their analysis and completely ignoring overall unintended political consequences of Russian military action in geopolitical context and outlook for peace in Syria. It would require writing a book about details so I will point out just few issues I have with Russians “suppose” withdrawing at this particular point of war.
If Putin limited objective was to stabilize Assad regime [which as I explained about was not the case at all] why he waited 4.5 years to do so and was so willing to sell him out (Geneva talks) personally in 2012 as long as Russian bases were to have been preserved. I watch hundreds of hours of videos of SAA struggling in 2012, 2013, 2014 with dilapidated Soviet equipment that after being destroyed in the battle was retrieved from battle field with huge risk to soldiers, patched up with sheet of metal and wires in make-shift metal mom and pop shops and returned to duty to be blown up again by US made guided TOW missiles.
Why Russians during all those years did not modernize and equip and train SAA with modern weapons when they would have been effective and would have wiped out ISIL and other terrorists before they entrenched themselves in Syrian deserts and mountains. What’s even worse, Russians refused to deliver critical weapons (helicopters and advanced missiles) Assad ordered and paid in full before 2011 and S300 he wanted to defend himself agonist Israeli aggression and periodic bombings of Syrian military bases i.e. effectively supporting terrorists, especially that there was NO EMBARGO of any kind against Syria. The mission to allegedly stabilize Assad regime what it has been destabilized by refusing to let him defend his country is hypocritical notion at best and conniving opportunism at worst.
Why Russians did not let Assad to defend himself when it was easy? Many seem to ignore this fundamental question citing euphemism of limited Russian engagement, nobody believes in today’s warfare.
But there is an answer to it; so-called GEOPOLITICS; before Ukrainian war Russians wanted to be “good “ partners to Imperial American monster and hence one way or another acquiesced to US imperial intervention via proxies in Syria while pursuing impossible “diplomatic” avenues but that doesn’t not explain why.
And here we have to consider Cui Bono in this conflict. Who benefits most from current battlefield situation as far as politics of the conflict is concerned. Why now to reduce or stop hostilities, allowing for enemy to regroup, re-supply and dig in. While Assad made substantial inroads in major cities, Aleppo, Hama and Homs, Daara he is far from fully liberating them so normal life may return to devastated cities including capital of Damascus that are on the frontlines. So who may be declared a winner of Russian engagement so far.
Here we have a political winner: Israel. Assad is weak but not dead, Israeli friendly ISIL [that coexist with Israeli army in relative peace in Golan Height foothills mostly spared of Russian bombing campaign] is weak but not dead, ANF is weakened but not dead, Erdogan is weak fighting Kurd insurrections but not dead. Saudis are weakened by discretionary Yemen war but not dead, Iran has been returned to western sphere of influence for a price of taming its anti-imperialist moves and rhetoric.
Is this the mission Putin has accomplished in Syria so far, to destroy or weaken anyone who may potentially threatened Israel in the region? If this is so it is the same goal as US have namely to partition of Syria formally or informally, already mostly reality on the ground all sides seem to deny.
Any analysis that focus on military aspects and ignoring sociopolitical context would be deeply flawed and would provide no guidance for peace prospects since it would confuse freezing the war conflict with practical solutions that are capable of bringing lasting peace. What is more disturbing that Russians, except from giving a lip service to the idea, seems oblivious to the peace solution successfully implemented under soviet promoted anti-colonial, secular pan-Arabic political system in MENA countries that was a true target of CIA instigated Arab Spring as well as political protests in Turkey since 2011.
Putin must know that partition of Syria and hence Iraq and Libya and potentially Egypt means the end of post-colonial political order and beginning of another 100 year nightmare of ethnic, sectarian strive and wars and further fragmentation of the area into medieval fiefdoms under direct control of nuclear Israel and its Imperial parent, the US.
Is this what he wanted to achieve and move toward? I do not think so.
And what about Syrian people? There are many cities that are still under daily thread of terrorist shelling or suicide bombings including Damascus, Hama , Aleppo etc., What those people are gonna think of Russians.
They are surely looking at “deal” Putin made in Eastern Ukraine and how it is devastating the population who are in limbo fifteen months later not knowing what to do, unable to return to normal life under continuing fascist aggression and attack daily. Does that count for anything in Russian calculations? Is this a new idea for Russians that lack of war is not presence a peace?
Everybody who studies wars knows that military action has social and political consequences regardless what technical goals are set and accomplished. For one peace was not achieved in Syria at this point and we are as far from it as we were six months ago despite flashy diplomatic maneuvers in Geneva and propaganda of peace talks between all sides, except for those political ventriloquists who stand behind the curtain to operate their puppets and pretend to be neutral arbiters.
So what is the advantage of Russian pause now except for avoiding sand storm season that makes air force mostly inoperative?
Did Russians accomplish enough for now? It is difficult to say since the war is dynamic and any advantages Putin thinks he provided for Assad can disappear within a year under economic hardship and people dissolution, desperation of the continuing war. In fact Russian intervention made partition of Syria more, not less likely by giving false impression to all sides that their conflicted and unrealistic goals could be still achieved, and hence against strategic interests of Russia and peace in ME. One think is sure, the Russian involvement in Syria will continue for years to come.
What else was accomplished, as Novorossia Today mentioned, was a show of force and global capabilities but that has nothing to do with Syria and use of strategic nuclear force to kill suicide bombers is an absurd but it was aimed as a clear response to escalation of the western aggression stemming from Ukrainian conflict.
And hence one way or another now or later true face of this conflict in its geopolitical east-west dimension will have to emerge in the world headlines, perhaps providing real chance for peace in Syria or an inspiration for WWIII.
RF aircraft carrier:
Fighting in Syria continues.
Allepo: Salaheddin district.
South Front: news and analysis.
Result of de-Syrialization of the rebel forces, making the war a war of foreign aggression.
17 Syrian special forces soldiers dead, suicide bombing by ISIL;
Erbin, Damascus area;
Killers of Russian soldier in Latakia captured:
How this what happened:
(Warning 18+) ISIL offensive in Deir-Ez-Zor;
New (third) Russian base in Latakia in construction.
Syrian Army Troops Retake Key Area in Homs, Inches Closer to Palmyra;
(Warning 18+) Dead in HAMA
Fighting in Kafr Sahira;
(Warning 18+) Children killed in terrorist attack in Aleppo;
Russian humanitarian assistance Harasta near Damascus;
“Celebrating” Mother’s day in Syria;
Mothers and their injured children;
Kurds celebrate new year in Syria , prohibited in Turkey;
Fighting against ISIL in Lebanon by Hezbollah;
Yemen houtis Islamists fighting Saudi military;
Shocking! Secret military operation of Israel in Yemen on the side of Saudis and Al-Qaeda?
Destruction of Turkish-Syrian Kurdistan, massive military presence at the Syrian-Turkey border;
South Front: Brussels bombing. Two terrorists were detained and them deported to Holland from Turkey and then released by Dutch security; Another example of western intelligence assets returning back to Europe from Syria after fighting with ISIL and ANF and alies.
They knew everything and did nothing;
Yemen fighting continues:
Delivery of weapons to Libya from Europe and ME