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Russia’s military bases in Syria

As a result of the Syrian war Russia is building a base complex in Syria which for the first time rivals that of the US in the eastern Mediterranean.

Alexander Mercouris




A reason frequently given by Western commentators for Russia’s support for President Assad is Russia’s supposed wish to protect its naval base in Tartus in Syria.  Some commentators have suggested conversely that one of the reasons for the whole Syrian war was to drive the Russians out of Syria.

In my opinion neither of these claims is true, but there is no doubt that one consequence of the war is that it has hugely increased the scale of Russia’s military presence in Syria beyond anything conceivable in 2011 when the Syrian conflict started.

Russia now operates two large bases in Syria which are definitely known about, and a third one whose existence is sometimes alluded to but which has never been publicly confirmed.

(1) Tartus naval base

The Russian navy has maintained a presence in Syria’s Mediterranean port of Tartus since the 1970s (some reports claim since 1971, other reports put the start date later).

Though the facility at Tartus was often called a base, until recently it was better described as a small logistics facility tasked with providing support for the Russian navy’s Mediterranean deployments.  The facility lacked the capacity to hosting more than a small number ships, and none of anything beyond corvette size.   Apparently it was mainly staffed by civilian contractors.  At the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011 it had apparently fallen into decay, and was barely in use.

Russia has now contracted a 49 year lease for the base, which is set for a huge expansion.   The objective is to enlarge it so that it can host simultaneously 11 warships, some nuclear powered.  Apparently work has already begun.

Assuming this work is completed, it will transform the base into a major naval base comparable in scale to those the US and NATO elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

(2) Khmeimim air base

This did not exist prior to September 2015, and is a hurried adaptation of a part of the civilian Bassel Al-Assad airport.  It consists of a single  2,979 metre asphalt runway, and was pressed into service by the Russian air force in September 2015 to enable it to conduct its air campaign against the Jihadis in Syria.

Russia has now contracted a 49 year lease for this base.  There is talk that it too will be expanded, with the building of a second larger concrete runway more suitable for high performance aircraft such as fighter jets and bombers.

This too would transform the base into a facility more comparable to US bases in the area, such as Incirlik in Turkey.

Alongside the extra runway there will presumably also be permanent facilities for the personnel manning the base, together with all the standard equipment required for such a base.

(3) Latakia listening station

From time to time reports dribble out of a large Cold War Russian listening (SIGINT) station in Latakia province in Syria, though details confirming its existence are hard to find.

In October 2014 Jihadis overran a listening post at Al-Harra in south west Syria close to the Israeli occupied Golan Heights.  This appears to have been a small listening post supposedly codenamed “Centre S”.  Possibly it was a branch of the much bigger complex located deeper within Syria in Latakia province that rumour speaks of.

Assuming this facility exists it will certainly have been affected by the revolution in electronic and signals intelligence which has taken place since the end of the Cold War.   This has made it easier to monitor signals traffic from within Russia, reducing the need for foreign based listening stations such as the one that supposedly exists in Latakia.  Having said this it is likely that this facility does exist, and that it is still active.

Russian reports occasionally give the impression that signals traffic in Syria is now being monitored from a facility actually located within Khmeimin air base.  It could be that the listening station has been relocated there, or – more probably – that this is being said in order to conceal its true location.

These three facilities are now protected by a complex belt of inter-locking defence systems, including the very powerful S-400 and S-300VM Antey 2500 anti aircraft missile systems deployed to Syria last year, the shorter range Pantsir S1 missile gun point defence missile gun system which came with the original Russian force that went to Syria in September 2015, the very advanced Krasukha 4 electronic warfare system (said to be capable of jamming AWACS aircraft and satellites), and the batteries of supersonic Bastion anti missiles redeployed along Syria’s coast late last year from Crimea.  There are now reports that Russia is sending batteries of Tochka-U short range ballistic missiles to Syria as well, though the Kremlin is refusing to confirm this.

Moreover since all these facilities are located within a small area in Latakia province they are able to function together as a single giant air and naval base complex, possibly under the supervision of a single base officer.

Whether US support for the Jihadis in Syria really was motivated by a desire to drive the Russians out of Syria is open to doubt.  However if it was then the conclusion must be that it has not only failed, but that it has achieved the opposite of what was intended to do.

Not only is Syria now more closely tied to Russia than ever before, but as a direct consequence of the Syrian war the Russians are now building an air and naval base complex in Syria the like of which they have never had in the Mediterranean before, making it possible for the first time for their land based aircraft to patrol the skies of the eastern Mediterranean, and for their ships to operate there without having to be supported at a distance from Russia’s home ports.

Moreover this is the first air and naval base complex on this scale to exist in the Mediterranean since the Second World War which is not controlled by the US or by one of its allies, but which is controlled instead by one of the US’s rivals.

Not the least consequence of the Syrian war is that it has not only weakened the US’s position in the Middle East, but it has also for the first time since the Second World War shaken the US’s hitherto unbreakable grip on the Mediterranean area.

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Tape recorded evidence of Clinton-Ukraine meddling in US election surfaces (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou



RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a look at new evidence to surface from Ukraine that exposes a plot by the US Embassy in Kiev and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) to leak Paul Manafort’s corrupt dealings in the country, all for the benefit of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Via Zerohedge

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has launched an investigation into the head of the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly attempting to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump during the 2016 US election by releasing damaging information about a “black ledger” of illegal business dealings by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Hill’s John Solomon, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko

“Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Lutsenko said last week, according to The Hill

Lutsenko is probing a claim from a member of the Ukrainian parliament that the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, attempted to the benefit of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

A State Department spokesman told Hill.TV that officials aware of news reports regarding Sytnyk. –The Hill

“According to the member of parliament of Ukraine, he got the court decision that the NABU official conducted an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” said Lutsenko, speaking with The Hill’s John Solomon about the anti-corruption bureau chief, Artem Sytnyk.

“It means that we think Mr. Sytnyk, the NABU director, officially talked about criminal investigation with Mr. [Paul] Manafort, and at the same time, Mr. Sytnyk stressed that in such a way, he wanted to assist the campaign of Ms. Clinton,” Lutsenko continued.

Solomon asked Lutsenko about reports that a member of Ukraine’s parliament obtained a tape of the current head of the NABU saying that he was attempting to help Clinton win the 2016 presidential election, as well as connections that helped release the black-ledger files that exposed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort‘s wrongdoing in Ukraine.

“This member of parliament even attached the audio tape where several men, one of which had a voice similar to the voice of Mr. Sytnyk, discussed the matter.” –The Hill

What The Hill doesn’t mention is that Sytnyk released Manafort’s Black Book with Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko – discussed in great length by former Breitbart investigator Lee Stranahan, who has been closely monitoring this case.

Serhiy Leshchenko

T]he main spokesman for these accusations was Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian politician and journalist who works closely with both top Hillary Clinton donors George Soros and Victor Pinchuk, as well as to the US Embassy in Kyiv.

James Comey should be asked about this source that Leshchenko would not identify. Was the source someone connected to US government, either the State Department or the Department of Justice?

The New York Times should also explain why they didn’t mention that Leshchenko had direct connections to two of Hillary Clinton biggest financial backers. Victor Pinchuk, the largest donor to the Clinton Foundation at a staggering $8.6 million also happened to have paid for Leshchenko’s expenses to go to international conferences. George Soros, whose also founded the International Renaissance Foundationthat worked closely with Hillary Clinton’s State Department in Ukraine, also contributed at least $8 million to Hillary affiliated super PACs in the 2016 campaign cycle. –Lee Stranahan via Medium

Meanwhile, according to former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr, Leshchenko was a source for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, testified on Oct. 19 that Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned Ukrainian lawmaker, was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.

“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were, according to portions of Ohr’s testimony confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation. –Daily Caller

Also absent from The Hill report is the fact that Leshchenko was convicted in December by a Kiev court of interfering in the 2016 US election.

A Kyiv court said that a Ukrainian lawmaker and a top anticorruption official’s decision in 2016 to publish documents linked to President Donald Trump’s then-campaign chairman amounted to interference in the U.S. presidential election.

The December 11 finding came in response to a complaint filed by another Ukrainian lawmaker, who alleged that Serhiy Leshchenko and Artem Sytnyk illegally released the documents in August 2016, showing payments by a Ukrainian political party to Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The documents, excerpts from a secret ledger of payments by the Party of Regions, led to Manafort being fired by Trump’s election campaign.

The Kyiv court said that the documents published by Leshchenko and Sytnyk were part of an ongoing pretrial investigation in Ukraine into the operations of the pro-Russian Party of Regions. The party’s head had been President Viktor Yanukovych until he fled the country amid mass protests two years earlier.

-RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty (funded by the US govt.).

So while Lutsenko – Solomon’s guest and Ukrainian Prosecutor is currently going after Artem Sytnyk, it should be noted that Leshchenko was already found to have meddled in the 2016 US election.


Meanwhile, you can also check out Stranahan’s take on Leshchenko being left out of the loop.

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‘I will take over as Brexit Party leader’: Nigel Farage back on the frontline

Nigel Farage says that if the UK takes part in European elections, he will lead his new Brexit Party.





Via RT

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will lead his new Brexit Party into the European elections if UK MPs decide to delay Brexit beyond May 22.

Farage, who has ostensibly appointed himself leader, told various media, including the BBC and Sky News on Friday morning: “I will take over as leader of the Brexit Party and lead it into the European Elections.”

It comes after the Brexit Party’s leader, Catherine Blaiklock, quit over a series of alleged Islamophobic statements and retweets of far-right figures on social media.

It is not yet thought that Farage has officially been elected as leader, as the party does not, as yet, have a formal infrastructure to conduct such a vote.

The right-wing MEP vowed to put out a whole host of Brexit Party candidates if the UK participates in the upcoming EU elections in May, adding: “If we fight those elections, we will fight them on trust.”

On Thursday night, the EU agreed to PM May’s request for a delaying to Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Brussels announced two new exit dates depending on what happens next week in the UK parliament.

The UK will have to leave the bloc on April 12 unless British MPs agree to May’s Brexit deal. If the withdrawal agreement is passed by next week, EU leaders have agreed to grant an extension until May 22.

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Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it is supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership blunders.

The Duran



Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

On March 29 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will celebrate 15 years of becoming NATO member states. The way to the alliance membership was not simple for newly born independent countries. They have reached great success in fulfilling many of NATO demands: they have considerably increased their defence expenditures, renewed armaments and increased the number of military personnel.

In turn, they get used to rely on more powerful member states, their advice, help and even decision making. All these 15 years they felt more or less safe because of proclaimed European NATO allies’ capabilities.

Unfortunately, now it is high time to doubt. The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership’s blunders. Every member state does a bit. As for the Baltic states, they are particularly vulnerable, because they fully depend on other NATO member states in their defence. Thus, Germany, Canada and Britain are leading nations of the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia respectively.

But the state of national armed forces in Germany, for example, raises doubts and makes it impossible not only defend the Baltics against Russia, but Germany itself.

It turned out, that Germany itself remains dissatisfied with its combat readiness and minister of defence’s ability to perform her duties. Things are so bad, that the military’s annual readiness report would be kept classified for the first time for “security reasons.”

“Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it,” said Tobias Lindner, a Greens member who serves on the budget and defense committees.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said ( the average readiness of the country’s nearly 10,000 weapons systems stood at about 70 percent in 2018, which meant Germany was able to fulfill its military obligations despite increasing responsibilities.

No overall comparison figure was available for 2017, but last year’s report revealed readiness rates of under 50 percent for specific weapons such as the aging CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters and the Tornado fighter jets.

Zorn said this year’s report was more comprehensive and included details on five main weapons systems used by the cyber command, and eight arms critical for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany heads this year.

“The overall view allows such concrete conclusions about the current readiness of the Bundeswehr that knowledge by unauthorized individuals would harm the security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he wrote.

Critics are sure of incompetence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen. Though she has occupied the upper echelons of German politics for 14 years now — and shows no sign of success. This mother of seven, gynecologist by profession, by some miracle for a long time has been remaining in power, though has no trust even among German military elites. Despite numerous scandals she tries to manage the Armed Forces as a housewife does and, of course, the results are devastating for German military capabilities. The same statement could be easily apply for the Baltic States, which highly dependent on Germany in military sphere.

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