Thursday, March 17, 2016

Putin's Syrian Withdrawal Mirage

Interesting? From Frederick Kagan. Husband of Kimberley Kagan. Brother in law of Victoria Nuland

Thanks Wiz Oz! :)
 Vladimir Putin is not pulling all of his forces out of Syria or ending his military support to the Assad regime.  His just-announced “withdrawal” serves political, military operational, diplomatic, and possibly strategic purposes, but its actual significance for operations in Syria is minimal.

Its significance for the long-term correlation of forces in the Mediterranean, however, is dire.

The intensity of Russia’s air campaign in Syria dropped markedly after the United Nations sponsored “cessation of hostilities” began on February 27, 2016.  But Russian airstrikes are still hitting opposition groups that have received U.S. support throughout Syria, along with ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra.

These strikes will likely persist for some time, since Russian officials say that “counter-terrorism” operations will continue, and negotiations in Geneva will not end the fighting on the ground.  The Syrian regime is actually readying offensive operations against ISIS-held Palmyra, and Russian airstrikes have begun to hit areas near Palmyra in recent days.

Putin has ordered his military to maintain operations at the naval base of Tartus and an airbase at Latakia and to defend them against air, sea, and ground threats, according to a transcript of Putin’s meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov published by the Kremlin on March 14.

Putin’s itemization of threats indicates his intention to keep the advanced S-400 air defense system in Syria, something a senior Russian parliamentarian has confirmed.  Those missiles range well into Turkish airspace, allowing Putin to interdict NATO air operations in Turkey without having to use aircraft.

The language about defenses against seaborne attack suggests Putin may be planning to deploy anti-shipping missiles on the Syrian coast.  Doing so would significantly improve his ability to create an area-denial envelope in the Eastern Mediterranean that would force a fundamental reevaluation of American and European naval and air requirements.
Area Denial-
I've discussed this previously. Relinking it the other day. So here the two posts are, yet again.

 Russia building A2Ad bubble over Syria and Levant
A2AD Bubble Syria and the Bigger Strategic Picture

The withdrawal of Russian aircraft from Syria is more like sleight-of-hand.

Putin has been using a mix of long-range bombers like the Blackjack and Backfire; medium-range fighter-bombers like the Su-30, Su-34, and Su-35; and short-range attack planes like the Su-25.  The long range bombers can hit targets in Syria from bases in Russia.  If they can land, rest, and refuel at Latakia, their ability to operate in Syria is unchanged.

The Su-30s, Su-34s, and Su-35s can fly unarmed from bases in Russia to Latakia, refuel and load ammunition stored there, and start bombing runs within 24-48 hours.

The Su-25s have a shorter range, and might take a little longer to become operational.  But the Russian air force could likely increase airstrikes back to the pre-ceasefire rate within 72 hours in the conditions he is describing.
The withdrawal of Russia’s special forces troops, SPETSNAZ, is superficially more interesting because they are ground forces. But in reality this is not meaningful.

SPETSNAZ are capable of very rapid deployment.  They can be airdropped into Syria directly from Russia, for example, or rapidly ferried to Latakia and then moved by helicopter.  They could return to the front lines in days, if not hours.

The only systems difficult to move rapidly back into Syria are those Putin is not moving—air defense systems like the S-400 and unmanned aerial vehicles (Defense Minister Shoigu said that Russia had 70 drones operating in Syria).  Putin has a simpler solution: announcing that they are needed both to protect his Syrian bases and to observe and control the ceasefire and the peace process.

There are excellent operational reasons for Putin’s move.  Keeping aircraft and troops at overseas bases is expensive, since fuel, ammunition, spare parts, and provisions have to be moved from Russia to Syria.

Moving back to home base saves money, and Putin cannot afford to be profligate.  Months of hard flying have probably taken a toll on his aircraft, making it desirable to bring them home  to service and refit them.  The relative lull in air operations during the “cessation of hostilities” is a great opportunity to do so.
This “withdrawal” is therefore eyewash.  It will last exactly as long as the “ceasefire” holds and operations continue at the current levels—or until one or more of the various opposition groups starts to make serious gains against pro-regime forces.

At that point, Putin will likely declare himself compelled to respond to the provocations of the terrorists and their supporters—meaning the U.S., Turkey, and NATO—and regroup offensively.

In the meantime, he will still be consolidating Russia’s first permanent air-sea stronghold in the Mediterranean since the 18th Century.

The U.S. and the West should be paying far more attention to the geostrategic implications of that reality than to Putin’s withdrawal mirage

From earlier today:

Saudis exiting Yemen
PKK subsidiary TAK Claim Responsibility for Sunday's Anakra Bombing

As Turkey continues to be destabilized- Intentionally so. Obviously I'm not buying all the bogus false flags claims out there. Considering the creation of Kurdistan or Israel 2.0 and knowing full well a big chunk of Turkey is necessary for that to happen- False flag claims just aren't working for me


  1. This comment is a response to Observer at Willy Loman's blog.I've tried twice and can't get it to post! Grrr....

    Hi Observer:
    Saw your message this am and went off to check out this Joaquin Flores, fellow. Admittedly I've not heard tell of him previously.
    Interesting video. And I will pay more attention to him from now on.

    "Penny, you sound well informed like Scott"

    As for my being well informed on this topic- I've written about Kurds and Kurdistan since around 2011? I don't know how long Scott has written about this topic? It became obvious when the destabilization of Syria began, that the kurds were "important"

    Here's a link to an earlier post:

    I'm certain there are well over two hundred posts at my blog on the topic- maybe even 300? I'm not entirely sure?

    "The reason nobody is responding is because you two actually are on the cutting edge on this matter"

    It seems that is the case? However I believe it goes deeper then that. I attribute the avoidance of the issue to deeply ingrained, or entrained, propaganda (to fall into line) with a meme attributing Kurds and perpetual victimhood- along the line of the "jew/eternal victim"/people without a land meme.

    I suggest at the blog the destruction of Turkey began in 2003. That is also how long the meme of the kurd/victim/people without a land has been pushed, implanted, reinforced within the populace. We all recall "Saddam gassed the Kurds"?
    No he didn't. He had absolutely nothing to gain. And everything to lose by gassing the Kurds- Gassing the kurds guaranteed the much desired, by the US, intervention in Iraq. So, who gassed the kurds? I would suggest it was other Kurds. Much like the types of abuses we see the PKK militias inflicting on the regular ‘joe or jane’ kurd., even today.
    They had everything to gain from this action. Saddam Hussein had everything to lose.

    Since the gotta do right by the victim meme is so well implanted in our psyche... It’s very easy to reinforce and reinvigorate and reaffirm. As I said previously to Scott- A nice “righting of wrongs” makes it easier to encourage people to do very bad things.

    So besides Scott and I being on the cutting edge, I would suggest a bit of cognitive dissonance is at play too.

    Part 2 below:

    1. Your questions:

      What do you both think of Joaquin Flores?

      I’ve got to pay attention to his work for a bit before I can decide- That was the first time I had heard of him- But, I’ll make a point of checking him out when I can- Thanks for bringing him to my attention

      2. What is your basic take on the Rojava component?

      Necessarily created to destabilize Turkey. Infiltrated fully with PKK terrorists
      The PKK were in Syria and active, training fighters, prior to NATO’s destabilization.
      An external link from this post

      ‘”PKK fighters returned to Syria during the civil war. Jordi Tejel, an expert on Syrian Kurds says, “already in April 2011 the PKK sent one thousand armed fighters to establish the YPG in Syria.”

      1,000 PKK fighters trained the YPG. They displaced and harmed many resident kurds. They forced the kurdish children to fight- including kidnapping minors from their parents. I had a story about a Syrian man, who set himself ablaze, so despondent over the kidnapping of his sons by the PKK-

      “Speaking of organized crime, Greater Kurdistan, in addition to creating new pipeline possibilities, may also freeze out several troublesome middlemen along the heroin road, were the Kurds to acquire a sea port…”

      I suggest regularly Greater Kurdistan will indeed be a terror state, like Israel and like Kosovo.
      Both Israel and Kosovo are very well known for their drug and human trafficking. Kurdistan wil be integral to that ‘trade’ along with pipelines- The PKK are already massive heroine traffickers

    2. Last link

      Scott, this is also posted at my blog, where It will be ignored :))

    3. Hi Penny. I found the comment this morning, both of them, and posted it. Sometimes on WordPress if you have more than one link in a comment, it automatically sends it to purgatory for a little while. I don't know why. I will respond over there. But I did find it. Sorry about that.

    4. Hey Willy: I did manage to get it through after 3 attempts!

  2. But finally got the comment through in three parts- yeah!

  3. Penny,
    I've been reading Flores' articles for some time now. I find him interesting and on point mostly.
    As for Kagan's analysis, what he states should be obvious to anyone spending time attempting to clue oneself into the Russian methodology concerning war fare. I made all of this clear previously, what weapons systems would remain. The Russians have developed electronic warefare systems that are currently leaps and bounds beyond what NATO has at their disposal. Part of their efforts in Syria and even Ukronazistan are designed to attempt to have the Russians use those systems in order that those can be further studied. As for Spaetznas, I've brought attention to the fact that Chechan Spaetnaz troops are deployed in Syria.
    As for aircraft capabilities, the Russians, though not possessing the shear number of assets, possess more advanced aircraft. NATO possesses nothing to compete with Russia's top of the line fighters. I also previously stated assets can be quickly redeployed if need be. Fortunately or unfortunately far too many of the western leadership believe their own propaganda; refusing to accept reality.

  4. Hi Pen,
    I have followed Joachim Flores for 2-3 yrs now. As Charles said, he is usually on point - very insightful. I rate him along with Andrew Korybko as the top two commentators on the web. Both young guys with fresh eyes.

    Joachim is an academic and can be a little convoluted at times in his writings as a result but his video interviews are usually excellent and very accessible. He is often featured on PressTV. You can find him on some of 108Morris108's YouTube channel interviews.

    Andrew Korybko is an excellent writer and organises his work very well. His articles are featured on Sputnik and OrietalReview.

    1. Daniel Patrick Welch is another top commentator. He is interviewed by PressTV also. He used to feature on RT's Crosstalk until he voiced one too many simple truths! I believe he has a Faceache page and is worth following if you are a subscriber.

    2. Thanks Charles and James
      I will check Joachim out more often
      Andrew I've read his stuff on occasion
      Daniel Patrick Welch is also a new name to me

      I almost exclusively read NATO msm and decipher everything from there...
      with the help of logical thinking and a sharply honed bs detector- of course hubby helps too :)

  5. Been following yours and Scott's blogs religiously now for the past two years at least. Both blogs are my absolute favorites. Have grown tired of the controlled opposition of the so called alternative blogs, that misdirect more often than not. The Saker blog is also good place to go, as the comments are pretty astute. You"ll really like Joaquin Flores, his work is posted at Fort Russ sometimes. I'm always on the look out for anything new he has out. Eric Draitser at another great analyst.
    Recent article by J. Flores

    Now for the Kurds, you have them pegged to a tee. I meet a woman years ago, who was half Iraq Kurd/ US citizen, and her boyfriend was an Iraq Kurd. This was during the time at the end of the US destabilzation campaigning Iraq. They were very nice people, but I couldn't help but feel that their characteristics were so similar to that of the " tribe"members, in fact I came right out and asked her if she was, but no. Anyway as I'm definitely not a fan of the tribe, these similarities made me always a bit suspicious of her. Then when I started reading your blog somethings about her and the Kurds were making more sense to me.
    I remember when Bremer, Bushs man in Iraq was talking about dividing up Iraq like they're talking in Syria and thinking oh this is part of the big plan they had for Iraq when they stared the war. But then it didn't happen officially any way so I thought, and was very surprised by this. They just been doing it under the radar, as this whole Syrian/ Turkey/ Iraq plot you've uncovered. I wonder why Erdogan went along with this ISIS shenanigans, I would think his Intellegence knew what was up with the US and the Kurds (Kurdistan). You'd think he would of teamed up with Assad as both their countries were in the crosshairs, to given away so Israel 2 .0 could be founded.
    I have to admit I'm secretly hopefully that Putin is not on board for this Kurdistan plot. Hopefully he's just keeping quiet, so those with these Kurd plans don't suspect his opposition and don 't plan well for what he has planned to help stop it. He's got to know that to give the tribe a base there would be a disaster, as the oligarch are his enemy and Israel is its home base. I was thinking maybe he was actually secretly supportive of the Turks bombing the Kurds, that why he wouldn't have to show his hand. Then today I read that they bombed the Turks today on the border supplying ISIS. It is rather confusing. With all the lies we are constantly being fed who knows maybe it was the US doing the supplying and the Turks are the fall guy; just can't comprehend why Turkey and Syria are on the same team. To lose territory of ones country has got to be the worst outcome.
    You don't have to publish this its really directed to you, I tend to ramble on, not so sure how coherent it is main reason why I don't like commenting.
    Again I love your blog I can tell you put a lot of work into it.

    1. Hi Rachel
      thanks and I did leave you a reply in one of the newer posts, hoping you won't miss it :)

  6. Hi Penny,

    Just a little correction. Freddie is the brother-in-law of Vicki. He is the brother of Bobby, Vicki's hubby.
    "Frederick W. Kagan is an American resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and a former professor of military history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point."
    His wife is Kim: " Frederick Kagan is married to Kimberly Kagan, president of the Institute for the Study of War."

    1. Dangerous people the whole lot.

    2. wiz oz- I stand corrected and did correct the article with thanks to you

      and jo, they are a dangerous lot, agreed!

  7. Rather than paying any attention to what the Western Anglo-Zionst MSM say, here is the official Russian statement, outlining what Russian has done and why.

    Russia has also deployed Ka-52 and Mi-28 attack helicopters to continue strikes against terrorists. That task is authorised by the UN as part of defending RUssia's national security (following the terrorist attack against the Russian civil A-321 airliner)

    1. thanks- I had seen the news regarding the helicopters at janes