Finally Some Clarity About Russian Plans For Syria
By The Saker
October 01, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - "The
A lot has happened in the last few hours.
Putin spoke at the UN, the Russian Parliament has approved the use
of Russian military forces in Syria and Sergei Ivanov has given the
Russian media a detailed explanation for the reasons which made the
Kremlin request such an authorization. The picture has finally
become much clearer.
What will not happen:
There will be no “
Most Anticipated Showdown in Recent History ”: no Russian ground
operation, no Russian imposition of a no-fly zone (especially not
against the US or its allies!), no MiG-31s, no Russian Airborne
Forces, no Russian tanks on the frontlines, no Russian SSBN (nuclear
weapons carrying) submarines and probably no significant Russians
military presence around Damascus. In fact, there will be no
Russian unilateral military operation of any kind. All that
nonsense can now finally be put to rest.
What will happen:
The Russian military operation will be legal on
all levels: the Russians have received a formal request for military
assistance from the Syrian government, the Russian Parliament has
given its authorization, and Russia will seek a UN Security Council
authorization. The Russian military operation will be officially
limited to air operations including bombings and close air support.
The main hub of the Russian operation will be in Latakia.
Crucially, Russia will act as a part of a broad coalition.
It would be a mistake to focus primarily on what
will happen next. I would argue that what has already happened is
far more significant.
What has already happened:
Putin has basically forced the USA to accept the
Russian plan. Kerry has told CNN that the US policy for Syria will
be “adjusted” – in other words the US is giving up on the notion of
ousting Assad, officially temporarily. NATO has declared that it
would welcome a positive role for Russia in Syria. The Pentagon has
followed the Israeli example and has decided to open a special
communications channel to coordinate Russian and US operations.
Considering the above, I suppose that the US will give its Bulgarian
colony the order to stop closing its airspace to Russian aircraft.
Finally, I will make some guesses as to what might
What might also happen:
First, I would not be surprised if the Russians
did declare that it was their standard operating procedure to
protect their military installations with air defense systems. And
then would finally bring in their S-300s (I am aware of rumors that
the S-300s are already there, but I have seen no confirmation so
far). I would expect the Israelis to feel particularly miserable
about that, and I would not be surprised if the Russians offered
guarantees that these systems would remain exclusively under Russian
control. What is already certain is that Netanyahu did fly to Moscow
to address issues of Russian-Israeli is not “cooperation” then at
least “non-interference”. I would add here that Moscow has no
hostile plans towards Israel whatsoever and that, by all accounts,
the Russians and Israeli officials get along famously, if only
because both sides are smart and pragmatists (they don’t need a love
fest, they need responsible behavior).
Second, the official Russian military presence in
Syria will give the Russians the perfect cover for all sorts of
covert efforts including the delivery of equipment, joint
intelligence operations and even direct action missions. I don’t
think that this will be a major part of the Russian effort, but now
the option is definitely here.
Third, and this is admittedly 100% my own
speculations, I believe that the entire Russian military effort will
be a cover for something else: a larger Iranian and Hezbollah
involvement. Why? For one thing, there is only that much any air
operation can achieve. There is no reason to assume that
a very small Russian Air Force contingent will significantly change
the course of the war. The total failure of the NATO
airforces over Kosovo has proven that air operations are, by
themselves, of very limited capability, and, unlike the NATO in
Kosovo, Russia will send a rather small contingent of aircraft.
However, the presence of the Russian Air Force in the Syrian skies
could conveniently “explain away” any sudden military reversals for
Daesh, especially if the real reason for such reversals would be a
beefed up Iranian intervention. Again, I have absolutely no
information confirming any of that, but I personally expect a sharp
rise in the Iranian and Hezbollah efforts to bush back Daesh.
In purely military terms this is a rather minor
development. Yes, the Syrian Air Force badly needs some
modernization (the fact that they are using helicopter-dropped 500kg
barrel bombs is a proof that they don’t have enough aircraft to
deliver guided or even unguided 500kg aerial bombs) and the Russians
will be bringing some very capable aircraft (SU-24s and SU-25s for
sure, and in some specific cases they could even use Tu-22M3s and
SU-34s). But this will not be a game changer. Politically, however,
this marks yet another triumph for Vladimir Putin who has forced the
US Empire to renounce its plans to overthrow Assad. Because, and
make no mistake here, the Russians are now there to stay: a limited
Russian military presence will now turn into a major Russian
political commitment. Furthermore, not only will Tartus continue to
serve a fairly limited but not irrelevant role for the Russian Navy,
the airbase in Latakia will become a hub of Russian military
operations and, in effect, a forward operating base for the Black
Conclusion: a game changer after all?
Yes. But not because of some Russian military
move. Consider this: for the United States the main purpose of Daesh
was to overthrow Assad. Now that the US is declaring that they
“don’t plan to arm the Syrian rebels at the moment” and that Assad
will not be overthrown, the utility of Daesh to the AngloZionist
Empire has just taken a major hit. If the Empire decides that Daesh
has outlived its utility and that it has now turned into a
liability, then the days of Daesh are counted.
Of course, I am under no illusions about any real
change of heart in the imperial “deep state”. What we see now is
just a tactical adaptation to a situation which the US could not
control, not a deep strategic shift. The rabid russophobes in the
West are still out there (albeit
some have left in disgust ) and they will now have the chance to
blame Russia for anything and everything in Syria, especially if
something goes really wrong. Yes, Putin has just won another major
victory against the Empire (where are those who claimed that Russia
had “sold out” Syria?!), but now Russia will have to manage this
potentially “dangerous victory”.