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Carving out “Kurdistan” is the US’ new end game in Syria

As one regional war ends, another conflict may begin.

Andrew Korybko

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The War on Syria has taken many twists and turns over the past six years, but the conventional part of the campaign seems to be drawing to an end. Russia’s anti-terrorist intervention turned the tables on the “moderate opposition rebels” and forever precluded any chance that they’d succeed in violently toppling the democratically elected and legitimate government of President Assad. The militant promotion of regime change is no longer in the cards for Syria, and great advances have been made on the anti-terrorist front against Daesh, but that doesn’t mean that the US isn’t still a danger to the Arab Republic.

Channeling the adaptive strategies of Hybrid War, the US changed its premier goal in Syria and is now seeking to geopolitically fragment the country to compensate for the failure of its years-long regime change operation, and it’s using the PYD-YPG Kurds as its battering ram for doing so. This proxy group leads the “Syrian Democratic Forces’” (SDF) offensive against Daesh in Raqqa and is already in control of a broad swath of northeastern Syria. The Trump Administration announced last week that it will be providing heavy weaponry to the SDF to aid in their anti-terrorist operations, but this is just a front for creating the core of a conventional army in the heart of the Mideast, trained and advised by the US’ special forces.

It’s probably for this reason and the belated realization of what’s really unfolding in the region that Russia has noticeably cooled in its support for the Syrian Kurds lately. President Putin said on Monday that Russia isn’t supplying arms to this group and that it maintains contact with them “even at least for avoiding possible collisions and situations that could create threats to our servicemen”, which is a lot different of a tone than the full-throated endorsement that Moscow’s representatives have previously given to the group in arguing that they should be incorporated into the multilateral peace processes of Astana and Geneva. Part of the reason for this change in attitude clearly has to do with the success of the Russian-Turkish rapprochement, but it can’t be discounted that an equally powerful driving motivator is that Moscow finally came to terms with the US’ new end game in Syria.

American Ambitions

Here’s what the US is aiming to accomplish nowadays:

 

  1. Construct A Conventional Kurdish Military Force In “Rojava”

The US endeavors to transform the YPG militia into a formidable conventional military force inside the conquered territories of northeastern Syria, strong enough to resist any Turkish invasion or post-Daesh liberation attempt by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). American advisors and military trainers are instrumental in facilitating this process, but it would be incomplete without the shipment of heavy weaponry which was just announced. The combination of elite instructors and state-of-the-art warfighting tools is expected to eventually result in the formation of an impressive fighting force which would be capable of holding its own, though with the caveat being that this would only remain so as long as the US’ three military facilities in Tabqa, Ayn al-Arab (known to the Western audience as “Kobani”), and Hasakah remain in place.

  1. Forge A “Decentralized”/”Federalized” Statelet In Northern Syria

Despite the US’ public statements to the contrary, Washington is hoping to use its new conventional Kurdish military proxies as the vehicle for forging a “decentralized”/”federalized” statelet in northern Syria which could “legitimize” their geopolitical designs in the region. Without the aforementioned development of their armed forces, the US’ allies cannot succeed in staving off or responding to a Turkish invasion or an SAA liberation operation, both of which could be launched to stop this plan dead in its tracks. The US is therefore using the Kurds as a military ‘deterrent’ of sorts in safeguarding its adapted Hybrid War objectives in Syria, which are no longer about forcibly overthrowing President Assad but have morphed to become the creation of a fortified outpost in the geostrategic four-nation juncture point of transnational “Kurdistan”.

  1. Use The “Second Geopolitical ‘Israel’” To Exert Regional Influence

The US’ ambitions to carve a “Kurdistan” out of the Mideast are akin to repeating the pattern of “Israel’s” creation in the sense that a foreign power is forming a proxy statelet out of the territory of other countries for hegemonic divide-and-rule purposes. This entity could become a terrorist safe haven for other anti-government groups – both Kurdish and otherwise— fighting in Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Moreover, pertaining to the Arab Republic at the center of this article, the US plans to take advantage of the fact that much of Syria’s freshwater, electricity (hydropower via Tabqa), agricultural, and fossil fuel resources either lay within YPG-occupied territory or the areas that they covet, meaning that the abovementioned Kurdish “decentralized” or “federalized” statelet would wield disproportionate strategic influence over the rest of Syria if it were allowed to come into existence.

Concurrent Processes

There are two important processes unfolding concurrently alongside the US’ Kurdish end game for Syria, and it’s important to briefly touch upon them because it’ll soon be demonstrated how they could greatly contribute to the most realistic peaceful ‘compromise’ scenario between Damascus and the Kurds, however imperfect it may end up being in practice:

* Nationwide “De-Escalation/Safe Zones”

It seems inevitable that the “de-escalation” zones will eventually give rise to “decentralized” units inside of Syria, especially if they’re implemented nationwide, though the latter is exactly what Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says that he spoke to US President Trump about during his visit to DC last week. According to Russia’s top diplomat, the two discussed how “this practice will be extended to the rest of the territory”, which additionally infers that more guarantor states will have to sign on to this agreement in order to supply the necessary “peacekeepers” for enforcing it, at least insofar as it relates to “Rojava”.

* UNSC Res. 2254’s Mandate For “Constitutional Reform”

This December 2015 document stipulates that Syria must reform its constitution and hold new elections within 18 months, meaning that the deadline for its implementation is next month in June 2017. The timeframe will probably be extended by an upcoming UNSC Resolution, but the main point here is that both Russia and the US agree that Syria must amend its supreme law of the land as a form of political ‘compromise’ in ending the country’s crisis. It’s naturally foreseeable that this could involve “decentralization” or “federalization”, especially given how the Russian-written “draft constitution” explicitly calls for the first one and ambiguously leaves open the possibility for the second.

Scenario Forecasting

Given the five factors elaborated on above, it’s possible to prognosticate the three most likely scenarios for Syria’s near future as they relate to the US’ plans for “Kurdistan”. The first two deal with conflicts and have been discussed at length before by various analysts, while the last one is original and presents what might be the only peaceful compromise ‘solution’ to this problem:

* Turkey Invades East Of The Euphrates

This scenario has been talked about quite a lot over the past couple of weeks ever since Erdogan openly threatened it, though the author was one of the first to predict this course of action in early March following the liberation of Palmyra. The guiding idea is that Turkey’s national security interests – and one can argue, even its very existence as a state – are seriously jeopardized by the US’ “Kurdistan” plans in northern Syria, and that unless Ankara can replace the ruling PYD-YPG militia with the pro-Turkish “Kurdish National Council” offshoot of the Iraqi-based Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), then it would have no choice but to invade northern Syria east of the Euphrates in an attempt to take out what it views to be one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the Mideast.

* Civil War Breaks Out Between Arabs And Kurds

If the Kurds aren’t stopped in “Rojava”, then they might carry through on their threats to create a Mediterranean corridor through Idlib and Latakia provinces, which would bring the YPG/SDF into conflict with the SAA and spark an actual civil war between Syria’s Arab and Kurdish populations. This could be offset through a territorial ‘swap’ of sorts such as the one which the author forecast in the latest edition of his Context Countdown radio show, which in that case would see the Kurds surrender any forthcoming conquest of Deir ez Zor and/or Raqqa to the SAA in exchange for Damascus recognizing their self-proclaimed statelet and granting them economic transit rights to the sea. If that plan doesn’t work, however, then the only alternative to the SAA waging a liberation war in the YPG-/SDF-occupied territories would be the final proposal explained below.

* US Gains Control Of The Kurdish “De-Escalation” Zone And “Decentralizes”/”Federalizes” Syria

The last scenario might be difficult to imagine at this point, but it’s based off of an adaptation of the two concurrent processes unfolding alongside the US’ “Kurdistan” plans. There’s no chance that the Kurds will agree to permit troops from the Tripartite of Russia, Iran, and/or Turkey to patrol their conquered territories if the “de-escalation” zone agreement is extended to that region, though they already have no such problem with the US setting up three bases there. It’s unrealistic to expect the US to pack up and leave after Daesh is defeated, let alone to take with it all of the heavy weaponry that was given to the SDF, so it appears to already be a fait accompli that the only peaceful post-Daesh “solution” in Syria is to eventually integrate the US into the “de-escalation” zone framework by making it the formal “guarantor” of “Rojava”.

Correspondingly, it naturally follows that this state of affairs would be institutionalized through heavy international pressure on Syria to amend its constitution in order to implement “decentralization” or “federalization”, essentially making the US’ “Kurdistan” plans a reality though ideally in exchange for some sort of concessions from Washington and/or reliable assurances that it won’t immediately use this entity for destabilizing the region. In any case, Washington can’t ever be trusted, but this final scenario represents a last-ditch tradeoff to avoid either a Turkish invasion and/or an Arab-Kurdish civil war, with Russia using its influence to convince Turkey and the SAA to abide by the grand deal that it might reach with the US in exchange for Washington doing the same with the YPG Kurds. Granted, this scenario is only feasible so long as Russia lacks the political will to seek a military solution to this pressing problem.

Concluding Thoughts

It should be beyond the reasonable doubt of any objective observer that the US has switched its destabilization plans in Syria from seeking President Assad’s violent ouster to endeavoring to carve up the Arab Republic with “Kurdistan”, though it’s equally evident that Russia presently has no desire to directly stop the US’ scheme from succeeding. For a variety of reasons mostly related in one way or another to Moscow’s fear of becoming engulfed in an Afghan-like quagmire, Russia is prioritizing a political “solution” to the War on Syria even at the expense of some of its grand strategic interests such as stopping the creation of a “second geopolitical ‘Israel’”, taking consolation from the fact that it decisively contributed to the defeat of Daesh and at least obtained lasting post-war militaryeconomic influence in Syria.

While Turkey, Iran, and especially Syria itself might feel uncomfortable with Russia reaching any sort of deal with the US over “Kurdistan”, none of them would probably have enough political will to unilaterally contradict Moscow’s wishes in undertaking military action against the prospective Kurdish statelet. Moreover, there’s no reason to believe that Russia would engage in any related discussions with the US on this subject without keeping its Syrian and Tripartite partners in the loop at all times, so whether they’re ultimately satisfied with the outcome of these speculated talks or not, they might still nonetheless be forced to accept that it’s the best possible result that could be hoped for under the circumstances of each of them earlier pledging to abstain from a military solution.

The biggest challenge standing in the way of Damascus and the Tripartite’s desire to stop the “second geopolitical ‘Israel’” is that they each already allowed the US to go too far in its mission creep by setting up three separate bases, dispatching over 1000 troops, and sending heavy weaponry to the Kurds. Russia also demonstrated during and immediately after Trump’s cruise missile strike against the SAA last month that it has absolutely no desire whatsoever to enter into any scenario which could even remotely lead to an armed conflict with the US in Syria (hence the clear statement that it won’t shoot down any future cruise missile salvos), so it wouldn’t make sense for Moscow to abruptly reverse this policy trajectory and threaten to go to war with Washington in expelling the US from “Rojava”.

Keeping in mind Russia’s wish to enter into a “New Détente” with the US, and the chummy relations that Lavrov and Tillerson seem to have cultivated with one another already, it appears ever more likely that both Great Powers are moving towards a strategic convergence of sorts in reaching a compromise ‘solution’ to the War on Syria. It’s not yet known exactly what it is that the US would give up in exchange for possibly securing Russia and its allies’ passive acceptance of a Kurdish statelet in northern Syria, but even the fact that this might prevent or at least delay a larger hot war from breaking out in the near future might be sufficient enough for all parties to agree to it in order to buy more time in preparing for a continuation conflict.

Whatever the case may be and in spite of the author’s respectful disagreement with this approach, it arguably looks like Russia and the US are at the very least deliberating on a deal for “Rojava”, and that it could conceivably involve the US agreeing to become the fourth guarantor in any nationwide implementation of Russia’s “de-escalation” zones and then codifying its existing military position into a post-war political reality through Damascus’ acceptance of the Russian-written “draft constitution”. Again, this is not the optimal solution to the “Kurdish Question”, nor is the author endorsing this scenario, but at this point in time all indications point in this direction and it seems to be the most realistic proposal being pursued behind the scenes, although there are still a multitude of eventualities which could offset it.

 

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution. 

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Photos of swastika on Ukrainian mall stairway creates a stir [Video]

Ukrainian nationalist press in damage-control mode to explain away the Nazi sign, but they forgot the name of the street the mall is on.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the aspects of news about Ukraine that does not make it past the gatekeepers of the American and Western news media is how a significant contingent of Ukrainian nationalists have espoused a sense of reverence for Nazis. The idea that this could even happen anywhere in the world in an open manner makes the claim seem too absurd to be taken seriously. Gone are the days when the Nazi swastika adorned streets and buildings in Europe. Right?

Well, maybe, wrong.

This was seen in Kyiv’s Gorodok (or Horodok, if you insist) Gallery, a shopping center in that city, located on Bandera Avenue.

The pro-nationalist news service UNIAN wasted no time going to press with their explanation of this incident, which admittedly may be accurate:

Children and teenagers who participated in the All-Ukrainian break dance festival held in the Kyiv-based Gorodok Gallery shopping mall were shocked to see a swastika image projected onto an LED staircase.

The mall administration apologized to visitors, explaining saying that their computer system had apparently been hacked.

“The administration and staff have no relation to whatever was projected onto the LED-staircase, and in no way does it support such [an] act. Now we are actively searching for those involved in the attack,” it said in a statement.

According to Gorodok Gallery’s administrative office, it was not the first time a cyber breach took place.

As reported earlier, Ukraine is believed to be a testing ground for cyberattacks, many of which are launched from Russia. Hackers have earlier targeted critical energy infrastructure, state institutions, banks, and large businesses.

This time, it appears, hackers aimed to feed the Kremlin’s narrative of “Nazis in power in Ukraine” and create a relevant hype-driving viral story for Russian media to spread it worldwide.

The Gorodok Gallery also apologized on its Facebook page and said that this was a result of hacking.

But what about the street that the mall is on? From the self-same Facebook page, this is what we see:


To translate, for those who do not read Ukrainian or Russian, the address says the following:

23 Steven Bandera Prospekt, Kyiv, Ukraine 04073

This street was formerly called “Moscow Avenue.” Big change, as we shall see.

Steven Bandera got his birthday designated as a national holiday in Ukraine last December. He is known in Ukraine’s history for one thing. According to the Jerusalem Post:

The street where the shopping mall is located is named for Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who briefly collaborated with Nazi Germany in its fight against Russia.

His troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews.

Several Israeli papers picked this bit of news up, and of course, the reasons are understandable. However, for the West, it appears possible that this news event will largely go unnoticed, even by that great nation that is often called “Israel’s proxy”, the United States.

This is probably because for certain people in the US, there is a sense of desperation to mask the nature of events that are happening in Ukraine.

The usual fare of mainstream news for the West probably consists of things like “Putin’s military seizes innocent Ukrainian sailors in Kerch incident” or, “Ukraine’s Orthodox Church declared fully independent by Patriarch of Constantinople” (not that too many Americans know what a Constantinople even is, anyway), but the overriding narrative for the American people about this country is “Ukraine are the good guys, and Russia are the bad guys,” and this will not be pushed aside, even to accommodate the logical grievance of Israel to this incident.

If this article gets to Western papers at all, it will be the UNIAN line they adhere to, that evil pro-Russia hackers caused this stairway to have a swastika to provoke the idea that Ukraine somehow supports Naziism.

But UNIAN neglected to mention that the street name was recently changed to Stephan Bandera (in 2016), and no one appears to have hacked this. Nor does UNIAN talk about the Azov fighters that openly espoused much of the Nazi ideology. For nationalist Ukrainians, this is all for the greater good of getting rid of all things Russia.

A further sad fact about this is the near impossibility of getting assuredly honest and neutral information about this and other similar happenings. Both Ukrainian nationalists and Russian media agencies have dogs in the race, so to speak. They are both personally connected to these events. However, the Russian media cannot be discounted here, because they do offer a witness and perspective, probably the closest to any objective look at what is going on in Ukraine. We include a video of a “torchlight march” that took place in 2017 that featured such hypernationalist activity, which is not reported in the West.

More such reports are available, but this one seemed the best one to summarize the character of what is going on in the country.

While we do not know the motive and identities of whoever programmed the swastika, it cannot really be stated that this was just a random publicity stunt in a country that has no relationship with Nazi veneration.

The street the mall is on bears witness to that.

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It’s Back to the Iran-Contra Days Under Trump

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Wayne Madsen, via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Showing that he is adopting the neoconservative playbook every day he remains in office, Donald Trump handed the neocons a major win when he appointed Iran-contra scandal felon Elliott Abrams as his special envoy on Venezuela. Abrams pleaded guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding information on the secret sale of US weapons for cash to help illegally supply weapons to the Nicaraguan right-wing contras, who were battling against the government of President Daniel Ortega. Abrams would have headed to a federal prison, but President George H. W. Bush, an unindicted co-conspirator in the scandal, issued pardons to Abrams and his five fellow conspirators – former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, and former Central Intelligence Agency officials Alan Fiers, Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, and Clair George – on Christmas Eve 1991, during the final weeks of Bush’s lame duck administration.

Abrams escaped being charged with more serious crimes by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh because he cut a last-minute deal with federal prosecutors. Trump, who has made no secret of his disdain for cooperating federal witnesses, would have normally called Abrams a “rat,” a gangster term meaning informant. The man who helped engineer the pardons for Abrams and his five convicted friends was none other than Bush’s Attorney General, William Barr, who has just been sworn in as Trump’s Attorney General. Trump, who is always decrying the presence of the “deep state” that thwarts his very move, has become the chief guardian of that entity.

During a recent hearing of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, newly-minted congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, reminded her colleagues and the world about the sordid background of Abrams.

Omar zeroed in on Abrams’s criminal history:

“Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful.”

Abrams, as is the nature of neocons, refused to respond to Omar and cited her comments as “personal attacks.”

Abrams’s and his fellow criminals’ use of mercenaries and “death squads” to conduct secret wars in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala during the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s has made a re-entrance under Trump. Abrams was brought on board by neocons like National Security Adviser John Bolton, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to oversee a US military build-up in Colombia, said to be 5000 US troops, to support Venezuelan paramilitary and military efforts to topple President Nicolas Maduro. Abrams and Bolton are also believed to have retained the services of another unindicted conspirator in the Iran-contra affair, Michael Ledeen, a colleague of the disgraced and convicted former Trump National Security Adviser, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Ledeen and Flynn co-authored a book titled, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and its Allies.” The book contains nothing more than the standard neocon tripe one might expect from the likes of Ledeen.

An official investigation of the Iran-contra scandal by the late Republican Senator John Tower of Texas concluded that Abrams’s and Ledeen’s friend, Iranian-Jewish middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar, a long-time Mossad asset and well-known prevaricator, was extremely instrumental in establishing the back-channel arms deals with Iran. Ghorbanifar has long been on the CIA “burn list” as an untrustworthy charlatan, along with others in the Middle East of similar sketchy credentials, including the Iraq’s Ahmad Chalabi, Syria’s Farid “Frank” Ghadry, and Lebanon’s Samir “Sami” Geagea. These individuals, however, were warmly embraced by neocons like Abrams and his associates.

Abrams, whose links with Israeli intelligence has always been a point of consternation with US counter-intelligence officials, is part of an old cabal of right-wing anti-Soviet Democrats who coalesced around Senator Henry Jackson in the 1970s. Along with Abrams, this group of war hawks included Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney, William Kristol, Douglas Feith, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Abram Shulsky, and Paul Wolfowitz. Later, this group would have its fingerprints on major US foreign policy debacles, ranging from Nicaragua and Grenada to Lebanon, Iraq, and Libya. Later, in December 2000, these neocons managed to convince president-elect George W. Bush of the need to “democratize” the Middle East. That policy would later bring not democracy but disaster to the Arab Middle East and North Africa.

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela. They have old scores to settle with Nicaraguan President Ortega. The initiation of “regime change” operations in Nicaragua, supported by the CIA and the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami, have been ongoing for more than a year.

The Trump administration has already achieved a regime change victory of sorts in El Salvador. Nayib Bukele, the former mayor of San Salvador, who was expelled from the formerly-ruling left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation (FMLN) party and joined the right-wing GANA party, was recently elected president of El Salvador. Bukele has quickly re-aligned his country’s policies with those of the Trump administration. Bukele has referred to President Maduro of Venezuela as a “dictator.” He has also criticized the former FMLN government’s recognition of China and severance of diplomatic ties with Taiwan. It will be interesting to see how a sycophant like Bukele will politically survive as Trump continues to call hapless asylum-seeking migrants from his country, who seek residency in the United States, “rapists, gang monsters, murderers, and drug smugglers.”

Another country heading for a US-installed “banana republic” dictator is Haiti. President Jovenal Moise has seen rioting in the streets of Port-au-Prince as the US State Department removed all “non-essential” personnel from the country. Moise, whose country has received $2 billion in oil relief from Venezuela, to help offset rising fuel prices, has continued to support the Maduro government. However, at the US-run and neo-colonial artifice, the Organization of American States (OAS), Moise’s envoys have been under tremendous pressure to cut ties with Venezuela and recognize the US puppet Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president. Moise’s refusal to do so resulted in armed gangs hitting the streets of Port-au-Prince demanding Moise’s resignation. It is the same neocon “regime change” playbook being used in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

There will be similar attempts to replace pro-Maduro governments in his remaining allies in the region. These include Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Abrams was also brought in as an adviser on Middle East policy in the George W. Bush administration. The carnage of Iraq is a stark testament to his record. In 2005, it was reported that two key Bush White House officials – Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams – gave a “wink and a nod” for the assassinations by Israeli-paid operatives of three key Lebanese political figures seeking a rapprochement with Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah – Member of Parliament Elie Hobeika, former Lebanese Communist Party chief George Hawi, and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In 2008, a United Nations panel headed by former Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare later concluded Hariri was assassinated by a “criminal network” and not by either Syrian and Lebanese intelligence or Lebanese Hezbollah as proffered by Abrams and his friends in Washington.

Representative Omar was spot on in questioning why Abrams, whose name is as disgraced as his two fellow conspirators – Oliver North and John Poindexter – whose criminal convictions were overturned on appeal, is working for the Trump administration on Venezuela. The answer is that the neocons, who can sense, like raptors, Trump’s political weakness, have filled the vacuum left by top-level vacancies in the administration.

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Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers

Putin: If US deploys mid-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to respond.

RT

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Via RT…


If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.

The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.

The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.” The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.

He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.

“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,”he said.

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