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Syria: Russia brings in the Terminator to ‘terminate’ ISIS

Alexander Mercouris

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This article was first published by The Duran

One of the most interesting revelations from President Assad’s visit last week to Russia’s Khmeimim air base in Syria is that the Russians have deployed one of their most unusual weapons systems there: the BMPT-72 Terminator.

Here is a picture of President Assad looking at this remarkable machine

The BMPT-72 has its origins in the two Chechen wars, when the Russians decided that a heavily armed armoured vehicle was needed to support main battle tanks in dealing with infantry especially in built up areas.

For some time it was recognised that armoured vehicles equipped with rapid fire anti aircraft cannon were devastatingly effective when used against infantry and in built up areas.  One of the systems regularly used for this purpose is the famous ZSU-23-4 Shilka

The problem with using the ZSU-23-4 Shilka for this role is that its armour is thin, which makes it unsuitable for first line combat.  In the early 2000s the Russians accordingly designed the Terminator, which was actually based on a T72 tank chassis, and was therefore better suited for this role.

The latest version of the Terminator – the BMPT-72 – packs a formidable punch, with two high velocity rapid fire 30 mm anti aircraft cannons and four Ataka anti-tank missiles, which can also be used to attack buildings, especially when equipped with thermobaric warheads.

Development of the Terminator has however been controversial in Russia, and they do not appear to have been procured in any quantity.  It seems that someone has now decided that the time has come to test out the concept – and the machine itself – in combat, which is presumably why it is now being deployed to Syria.

The number of Terminators Russia has sent to Syria is unknown.  Al-Masdar, which has sources within the Syrian military, describes how and where they will be used

The Russian Terminator-2 BMPT vehicle which hasn’t entered service in any armed forces in the world was spotted in the eastern countryside of Hama alongside the elite Desert Hawks who are wrapping up their preparations for an offensive aimed at expelling ISIS from the central province.

The vehicle was first seen in Hmeimim Airbase during President Assad’s visit the previous week. According to reports, the Terminator-2 war machine will participate in the fierce battles of Hama’s rugged mountainous terrain and will be operated by Russian service members until Syrian Army units receive adequate training on the weapon system.

The SAA offensive in eastern Hama will be focused on securing the oil pipelines and capturing the ISIL stronghold of Uqayribat. Once captured, ISIS fighters in the area will likely flush out of the province and the adjacent territory north of Palmyra to avoid full encirclement.

Filled with mines, ambushes, fortified encampments, and unmaneuverable geography, the battle for east Hama is far from easy and the terror group is almost certainly unwilling to bulge given the strategic weight of region. Should the Syrian Armed Forces rid the area of ISIL presence, the path to Deir Ezzor and the rest of eastern Syria will be much less dangerous and more militarily feasible as ISIS’s mobility in the desert and its ability to conduct its infamous well-planned desert raids will be permanently paralyzed.

Eastern Hama is the gateway to the oil-rich Euphrates basin.

How ISIS reacts to a weapons system the like of which they have never come up against before, and how well the Terminator performs in combat, remains to be seen.   Everything however suggests that it will prove a terrifyingly effective weapon.

One respect in which the Terminator may prove particularly useful is in dealing with ISIS’s single most powerful weapon: the vehicle driven suicide bomb.  When used successfully these can be devastating weapons, spearheading ISIS offensives and used with deadly effectiveness by ISIS when it is thrown onto the defensive.

Suicide bombs must however by definition use un-armoured or very thinly armoured commercial vehicles to be truly effective, since enclosing the bomb in an armoured body obviously reduces its effectiveness.  That makes vehicle driven suicide bombs theoretically vulnerable to destruction by long range fire, and that in fact is how the Syrian and Iraqi military try to counter them.  Here is a video of such a vehicle driven suicide bomb being destroyed in exactly that way by pro-government Shiite militia in Iraq.

However the speed at which these bombs can move makes them a potentially difficult target, and there have been any number of cases when they have evaded attempts to destroy them, and have got through and have destroyed their targets.

Heavily armoured vehicles equipped with high velocity rapid fire cannons and very advanced fire control systems like the Terminator are just about the most effective conceivable way to deal with them.

Since ISIS as it fights for its life is likely to stage suicide bomb attacks with increasing frequency, someone in Moscow has obviously decided that sending the Terminator to Syria to deal with them has now now become urgent.

That shows both the typically thorough planning of the Russian General Staff – preparing carefully in advance for a likely wave of suicide bomb attacks which has not yet happened – whilst paradoxically providing further proof – since the Russians obviously expect a drastic increase in suicide bomb attacks over the next few weeks – that ISIS’s days in Syria are numbered.

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Rus, Syria , Arabs and Persians : Desalafy – Dewahabbify the ME ! with all means . Also denatofy . Also dezionazify !

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Well done Putin !

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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

RT

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Via RT…


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.

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Via Zerohedge


In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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