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Russia’s Military Operation in Syria: Three Years On

The operation in Syria is the first time Russia demonstrated its ability to launch massive long-range high-precision strikes.

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 Authored by Peter Korzun via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Russia’s military operation in Syria was launched on September 30, 2015. Over 63, 000 servicemen, including 26,000 commissioned officers and 434 generals, have seen combat there to receive invaluable experience. Russian forces have used 231 new types of advanced weapons, including aircraft, surface-to-air systems, and cruise missiles. It’s interesting to note that the representatives of arms-producing companies are in place to assess the systems’ performance. The Syrian experience is to be taken into account as new weapons are developed.

All in all, the Russian Aerospace Forces have conducted 39,000 sorties or over 100 flights daily on average, destroying 121,466 targets and killing more than 86,000 militants, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported. The service has launched 66 long-range cruise missile strikes. The operations have been supported by A-50 and Tu-214R early warning and control aircraft as well as Il-20M1 electronic warfare (EW) planes. It should be noted that the Aerospace Forces group has not been large, with estimated 30-50 combat aircraft and 16-40 helicopters deployed at any given moment.

The Su-35S is a brand-new air superiority fighter, which has proven to be a formidable weapon. Dave Majumbar, a leading military expert and defense editor of The National Interest, believes that “It is only a matter of time before the Russians manage to sell more of these jets around the world—especially to those nations that either do not want to or are unable to buy Western aircraft”. The Su-34M frontline bomber is the workhorse to bear the brunt of the work. And it is doing it with flying colors. The plane is equipped with the SVP-24 Tefest special computing subsystem to provide for enhanced accuracy. The GLONASS satellite navigation system is used to constantly compare the position of the aircraft and the target and measure the environmental parameters. The information from datalinks allows computing an “envelope” (speed, altitude, and course) inside which a gravity bomb is automatically released at the precise moment to strike with the same accuracy as cutting edge smart munitions do. Even if GLONASS were jammed, the sensors would do the job. Fire-and-forget guidance allows the pilot to concentrate on detecting threats and targets. The weather conditions or time of the day play no role. Su-35s and Su-30SMs also have contributed to air-to-surface operations though their prime mission is air cover. The MiG-29 SMT came to Syria in September 2017 for testing.

Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers as well as Tu-22M3 long range bomber, accompanied by Su-30SMsSu-35s and Su-27SM3s, saw combat for the first time. The strategic bombers used the brand new Kh-101 and Kh-55 cruise missiles with conventional warheads contained inside the body of the planes.

The successful performance in Syria prompted the decision to renew the production of Tu-160 bombers upgraded to the M2 version. On Nov. 17, 2015 two Tu-160s launched 16 Kh-101 missiles to knock out the targets with the aircraft returning to the Engels air base in Russia.

The operation in Syria is the first time Russia demonstrated its ability to launch massive long-range high-precision strikes, including the satellite-guided Su-24M and Su-34 have used Kh-29L laser-guided air-to-surface missiles as well as Kh-25ML lightweight missile with a modular range of guidance systems and a range of 10 km. Russian media have reported that Su-34s use the upgraded Kh-35U turbojet subsonic cruise anti-ship missile with a range of 300 km (160 mi). Two Su-57 fifth generation jets have gone through a two-day testing period in Syria. Il-76 and An-124 have conducted 2,785 flights to provide the forces with the logistical support they need.

The Mi-28N and the Ka-52 attack helicopters of Army aviation saw their first ever battle tests, liberating the cities of Palmyra and Aleppo. Both use Ataka anti-tank missile systems. Mi-24Ps support the forces on the ground.

During the three-year period 86 surface ships, 14 submarines and 83 auxiliary vessels have taken part in the operation. Admiral Kuznetsov, the only Russian aircraft carrier, was in the area in the period Nov.2016-Jan. 2017. Su-33s and conducted 420 sorties, including 117 at night time, to hit 1252 targets. Ka-52K and Ka-31SV (Ka-35) naval aviation reconnaissance and combat helicopters have made their first flights in combat conditions. Bastion and Oniks coastal anti-ship missile systems protect the naval group near the Syria’s shore. Naval Kalibr cruise missiles, installed on surface ships as well as submarines, are able to precisely strike land targets at a distance of 2,600km. They have been used 13 times to deliver 100 strikes. The ability to fire long-range sea and air-launched cruise missiles has ushered Russia into the club of the chosen. It no longer has to rely exclusively on nuclear weapons.

Buk-M2s and Pantsir-S1 were the first systems deployed in Syria. The latter has proven to be the most effective weapon against drones. It is defending the Hmeimim base from UAV attacks daily with no drone having penetrated the Pantsir-protected space. The S-400 has been deployed in Hmeimim to protect the skies over a large part of Syria since November 2015 to be later joined by S300V4. air defense missile systems are protecting the Tartus naval base where Russian Navy ships are anchored. The Krasukha-4 mobile electronic warfare system was delivered to Hmeimim on Sept.25 to boost the air defenses. The system can jam communications systems, disable guided missiles and aircraft, and neutralize Low-Earth Orbit spy satellites and radars (AWACS) at the ranges of 150-300km.

Hmeimim is well guarded by Army, SOF and Marines supported by T-90A and T-72B2 MBTs and Msta-B 152mm towed howitzers. The Uran-6 mine clearing robot was used to demine Palmira and Aleppo. Its operations were supported by Scarabey and Sfera reconnaissance robotic systems. The Uran-9 tracked Unmanned Ground Vehicle, or a remote-controlled tank, has coped with the most difficult missions in combat conditions.

The new Tigr 4×4, multipurpose, all-terrain infantry mobility vehicle, is widely used for a broad range of missions across the country, including the support of military police missions. The Typhoon-U mine-resistant assault vehicle used by paratroopers is also in Syria having gone through tests there before entering service.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have conducted over 25, 000 sorties to detect 47,500 targets. Roughly 70 drones were carrying out missions daily. The overall flight time of ForpostOrlan-10Aileron and Zala drones is equal to 140, 000 hours. The situation is monitored round the clock.

In 2017, the Terminator tank support fighting vehicle saw combat as a unique system destined for urban warfare. The first batch of the systems that have no analogues in the world entered service with the Russian Army in March.

The Kornet anti-tank system with air defense capability has proven to be a reliable and very deadly weapon. The system’s portable-transportable launcher can be installed on wheeled and tracked vehicles. The Solntsepyok heavy flamethrower has become indispensable for striking enemy in mountainous areas and underground tunnels and bunkers.

Russian military advisors also trained and advised soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), while developing relationships with pro-government militias. Russia managed and funded the Fifth Corps in 2016. The force, which consists of volunteers, is deployed alongside other SAA units. Russian high-ranking officers and generals on train, advice and assist missions have often led Syrian troops to victories sharing their experience and expertise.

In 2015, Russia was predicted to plunge in a protracted conflict with no end in sight, which would be sapping its resources without any positive results achieved. Western experts believed Russia was to sustain a long-term deployment far from its borders. It has turned out differently.

Since the start of Russia’s operation, the Syria’s government has gone from the brink of collapse to near victory, with its control established control over the larger part of the country. It is firmly in power. Aleppo has been cleared of terrorists and control of Palmyra regained. This century, Russia’s victory in Syria is the only example of successful military operation achieved in a short period of time with positive results, paving the way for a negotiated solution, with the focus shifting to a political process. The time has come for diplomats, not guns, to talk.

Russia has become the key actor in Syria and its post-conflict reconstruction. On Sept. 17, Moscow and Ankara agreed to a diplomatic solution for Syria’s northern Idlib province. The Russia-initiated Astana peace process has made progress, such as the establishment of de-escalation zones among other things, unlike the UN-brokered talks. Post-war reconstruction has started in many areas.

Three years on, it is safe to say the success in Syria has reaffirmed Russia’s status as a global superpower with power projection capability. Moscow has become the key stakeholder in the Middle East. Its global political clout has grown immensely as the world is shifting from a unipolar pattern to multipolar configuration.

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JNDillard

A stunning accounting. I had no idea so many soldiers and so many varieties of armaments were fielded in Syria by Russia, with outstanding results. Israel, the US, and NATO are close to being neutralized in the Middle East, and we will soon see, probably in 2019, if that is the case for both the Kurds and Turkey as well. When Russia retreats to its two Syrian bases, at the end of the war, it will leave a Syrian army that is most likely superior to any European fighting force and a match for Israel. Of course, Russia will remain… Read more »

A.F.
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A.F.

85.000 innocent Syrians killed by Russia, incl. 60 hospitals……………..

A.F.
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A.F.

Putin today admitted at last he ordered the poisoning of the Skripals!

Ian
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Ian

It’s good to see the Russian military got the much needed combat experience. Sadly, a missed opportunity for the Chinese.

A.F.
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Killing 85.000 innocent Syrians, well done

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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