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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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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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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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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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Converting Khashoggi into Cash

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose.

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The hazard of writing about the Saudis’ absurd gyrations as they seek to avoid blame for the murder of the late, not notably great journalist and Muslim Brotherhood activist Jamal Khashoggi is that by the time a sentence is finished, the landscape may have changed again.

As though right on cue, the narrative has just taken another sharp turn.

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has ‘fessed up (sorta) and admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose:

Y’see, it was kinda’f an ‘accident.’

Oops…

Y’see the guys were arguing, and … uh … a fistfight broke out.

Yeah, that’s it … a ‘fistfight.’

And before you know it poor Jamal had gone all to pieces.

Y’see?

Must’ve been a helluva fistfight.

The figurative digital ink wasn’t even dry on that whopper before American politicos in both parties were calling it out:

  • “To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement,” tweeted Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince. It’s hard to find this latest ‘explanation‘ as credible.”
  • California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the new Saudi explanation is “not credible.” “If Khashoggi was fighting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he was fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him,” Schiff said. “The kingdom and all involved in this brutal murder must be held accountable, and if the Trump administration will not take the lead, Congress must.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must think he’s already died and gone to his eternal recreation in the amorous embraces of the dark-eyed houris. The acid test for the viability of Riyadh’s newest transparent lie is whether the Turks actually have, as they claim, live recordings of Khashoggi’s interrogation, torture, murder, and dismemberment (not necessarily in that order) – and if they do, when Erdogan decides it’s the right time to release them.

Erdogan has got the Saudis over a barrel and he’ll squeeze everything he can out of them.

From the beginning, the Khashoggi story wasn’t really about the fate of one man. The Saudis have been getting away with bloody murder, literally, for years. They’re daily slaughtering the civilian population of Yemen with American and British help, with barely a ho-hum from the sensitive consciences always ready to invoke the so-called “responsibility to protect” Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Syria, Xinjiang, Rakhine, and so forth.

Where’s the responsibility not to help a crazed bunch of Wahhabist head-choppers kill people?

But now, just one guy meets a grisly end and suddenly it’s the most important homicide since the Lindbergh baby.

What gives?

Is it because Khashoggi was part of the MSM aristocracy, on account of his relationship with the Washington Post?

Was it because of his other, darker, connections? As related by Moon of Alabama: “Khashoggi was a rather shady guy. A ‘journalist’ who was also an operator for Saudi and U.S. intelligence services. He was an early recruit of the Muslim Brotherhood.” This relationship, writes MoA, touches on the interests of pretty much everyone in the region:

“The Ottoman empire ruled over much of the Arab world. The neo-Ottoman wannabe-Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan would like to regain that historic position for Turkey. His main competition in this are the al-Sauds. They have much more money and are strategically aligned with Israel and the United States, while Turkey under Erdogan is more or less isolated. The religious-political element of the competition is represented on one side by the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘democratic’ Islamists to which Erdogan belongs, and the Wahhabi absolutists on the other side.”

With the noose tightening around Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), the risible fistfight cock-and-bull story is likely to be the best they can come up with. US President Donald Trump’s having offered his “rogue killers” opening suggests he’s willing to play along. Nobody will really be fooled, but MbS will hope he can persuade important people to pretend they are fooled.

That will mean spreading around a lot of cash. The new alchemy of converting Khashoggi dead into financial gain for the living is just one part of an obvious scheme to pull off what Libya’s Muammar Kaddafi managed after the 1988 Lockerbie bombing: offer up some underlings as the fall guys and let the top man evade responsibility. (KARMA ALERT: That didn’t do Kaddafi any good in the long run.)

In the Saudi case the Lockerbie dodge will be harder, as there are already pictures of men at the Istanbul Consulate General identified as close associates of MbS. But they’ll give it the old madrasa try anyway since it’s all they’ve got.Firings and arrests have started and one suspect has already died in a suspicious automobile “accident.” Heads will roll!

Saving MbS’s skin and his succession to the throne of his doddering father may depend on how many of the usual recipients of Saudi – let’s be honest – bribery and influence peddling will find sufficient pecuniary reason to go along. Saudi Arabia’s unofficial motto with respect to the US establishment might as well be: “The green poultice heals all wounds.”

Anyway, that’s been their experience up to now, but it also in part reflects the same arrogance that made MbS think he could continue to get away with anything. (It’s not shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, but it’s close.) Whether spreading cash around will continue to have the same salubrious effect it always has had in the past remains to be seen.

To be sure, Trump may succeed in shaking the Saudi date palm for additional billions for arms sales. That won’t necessarily turn around an image problem that may not have a remedy. But still, count on more cash going to high-price lobbying and image-control shops eager to make obscene money working for their obscene client. Some big American names are dropping are dropping Riyadh in a sudden fit of fastidiousness, but you can bet others will be eager to step into their Guccis, both in the US and in the United Kingdom. (It should never be forgotten how closely linked the US and UK establishments are in the Middle East, and to the Saudis in particular.)

It still might not work though. No matter how much expensive PR lipstick the spinmeisters put on this pig, that won’t make it kissable. It’s still a pig.

Others benefitting from hanging Khashoggi’s death around MbS’s neck are:

  • Qatar (after last year’s invasion scare, there’s no doubt a bit of Schadenfreude and (figurative) champagne corks popping in Doha over MbS’s discomfiture. As one source close to the ruling al-Thani family relates, “The Qataris are stunned speechless at Saudi incompetence!” You just can’t get good help these days).

Among the losers one must count Israel and especially Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. MbS, with his contrived image as the reformer, was the Sunni “beard” he needed to get the US to assemble an “Arab NATO” (as though one NATO weren’t bad enough!) and eliminate Iran for him. It remains to be seen how far that agenda has been set back.

Whether or not MbS survives or is removed – perhaps with extreme prejudice – there’s no doubt Saudi Arabia is the big loser. Question are being asked that should have been asked years ago. As Srdja Trifkovic comments in Chronicles magazine:

“The crown prince’s recklessness in ordering the murder of Khashoggi has demonstrated that he is just a standard despot, a Mafia don with oil presiding over an extended cleptocracy of inbred parasites. The KSA will not be reformed because it is structurally not capable of reform. The regime in Riyadh which stops being a playground of great wealth, protected by a large investment in theocratic excess, would not be ‘Saudi’ any longer. Saudia delenda est.”

The first Saudi state, the Emirate of Diriyah, went belly up in 1818, with the death of head of the house of al-Saud, Abdullah bin Saud – actually, literally with his head hung on a gate in Constantinople by Erdogan’s Ottoman predecessor, Sultan Mahmud II.

The second Saudi state, Emirate of Nejd, likewise folded in 1891.

It’s long past time this third and current abomination joined its antecedents on the ash heap of history.

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