Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Syria and Russian repositioning on April 10 2018

Here is another collection of quick thoughts to a question posed by James Sherr, from Chattam House (Royal Institute of International Affairs, UK) on purposes of Russian redislocations & threats on Syria.

1. I'm not going to say something new, but Russian interest to protect its sattelite Syrian regime is still valid 
- it needs to protect its naval base, 
- block potential gas routes (see gen. Ivashov), 
- let's not forget обкатка/training of its military in war situation, as well of its (new&old) equipment & military sales to Syria&Iraq&Iran (otherwise to whom?), 
- playing "danger close" with (or testing) USA on the ground - as if it's an "equal" player. 

2. Which brings me to a very mportant matter from a Russian perspective - face saving. It needs sabre rattling to show its might to its own public (power=internal legitimacy), as well as to some, rather naive, leaders in the world. Consequently, Sputnik already published the standard article of next World War again, a theme so readily picked up by certain media, a fact known to Russians.

3. Their game on nuclear aggravation (starting WW3) can only theoretically happen if they themselves use a tactical nuclear strike. This is quite unlikely, as they would only use it against a country that cannot retaliate. However, the international community will have to respond, and the current sanctions would seem a minor issue compared to that response. The fact that Russians didn't dare to move a finger when Israel destroyed an important part of Syrian Air Defences, simply annihilated the "argument" if WW3 & also of "impissibility" of no-flight zone in Syria (both Obama & Trump administrations seemed to have been careful about). So, the probability is low.

4. Thus, Russians lay the ground for a standard either-or scenario they are so "good" at:

- either detter USA from hitting certain critical infrastructure (to later present themselves as mighty saviours & continue their Syria is ours game)

- or to have an "honorable" excuse for being pushed out of Syria & their hands untied for another intervention, weapons sale & (v.importantly too) propaganda+intervention elsewhere. Ukraine is a "reserve" option for intervention all the time, but there is always something more "in reserve" around the corner: 
• Bosnia is tested for some time, for example! 
• And where do we have elections coming in some strategic location? 
(Danemark's interests abroad (inexistant) would be too far stretched, even in NS2 context, but you get my point, I am sure:)

5. In short Russians do their standard and less known in the West to the public & some decision makers chess-like "Вилка"... ("fork" - when one figure threatens two) This lays the ground for either their "save&stay" or "leave&follow up" scenarious that cannot be avoided.

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