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SEPTEMBER 2020

On the Verge of a Major War: Is There a Pilot in the Cockpit?

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Russia defends its European territory from US missiles by creating a naval base in Syria.

On the Verge of a Major War: Is There a Pilot in the Cockpit?

Written by Nikolay Nikolaev; Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Valentina Tzoneva exclusively for SouthFront

In late August 2010, the citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic looked for salvation from the heat in the cool Mediterranean shores of the country, resting after another working day. An ominous event will turn into a terrible omen for the future of the prosperous Arab country whose health, education or social system would make many Eastern European countries jealous. The deputy head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) to the Russian Armed Forces, Yuri Ivanov, was found dead in the neighboring Turkish province of Hatay. Officially, the general was on a private visit to the country –having a holiday in the Syrian resort of Tartus, then heading to another Mediterranean port of Latakia. Unofficially, General Ivanov, who was visiting Syria with a diplomatic passport, was on a mission in Tartus, where the Russian military planned to deploy a complete naval base in 2011.

According to local media, President Bashar Assad, accompanied by his family was in Latakia at the same time as Yury Ivanov. The plan for extension positions a full-scale naval base at a place with a single gas dispenser that can be briefly described as a checkpoint for logistic supply. The difference is not just in the names. A major point of a permanent naval base is its ability to provide the compounds of ships with all types of collateral security. This includes a complete set of tools for anti-aircraft and missile defense, anti-ship missiles; it is a means to restore fighting capacity and conduct combat training and will firmly secure Russian influence in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

In Bulgaria, the thesis of geo-economic causes of the war in Syria related to the battle for control over gas routes is popular. In practice, the events that began four months after the death of the GRU General are mostly related to considerations of a military strategic nature and are aimed at blocking Russian naval forces to the Black Sea straits and strategic expansion of US missiles to the Urals. In the Syrian crisis, Russia not only protects its “geopolitical interests,” as they are accustomed to blaring in some environments. The danger of expelling the Russian fleet from the Mediterranean poses an existential threat to the Russian Federation.

The decision to build a permanent naval base in recent days is a breakthrough in the geopolitical strategy of “deterrence” and the concept of a “lightning strike” imposed by the US, and reflects the long-term prognosis for stabilising of Russian influence in the region.

Dangerous Game – “Thunderbolt global strike”

“We must take into account not the intent but the capabilities.” This ingenious sentence of the “Iron Chancellor,” Otto von Bismarck, describes the importance of the military potential of a country for international relations. The military strategy can be described as a chessboard on which leading players have their figures: ground forces, ballistic missiles, naval vessels, missile defense, air forces. Each operating unit has a function and scope of action just as the figures on the board. The combined “value” of the forces on the battlefield in a hypothetical confrontation with the enemy must be able to lead to victory. In other words, in an offensive strategy, the player “on the move” must at some point declare “checkmate.”

Regardless of diplomatic and economic pressure, as the practice of the post-Cold War points, the military force remains the main means of imposing the will of the global hegemon, whether it comes to Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America or Europe. The World domination of the United States, however, has one huge obstacle called the strategic weapons of mass destruction of Russia. The presence of strategic nuclear weapons capable of inflicting “retaliation,” negating any military campaign, is a “stumbling block” to US strategists. This gives the Western leaders two possible choices: to give up their aspirations to impose their will on Russia and include Russia in a joint security system or to try to defuse Russian ballistic missiles. The debate in the late 90s in the US was heated.

According to the great diplomat, George Kennan, “father” of the policy of deterrence which earned the victory in the Cold War, the attempt to impose military superiority over Russia is harmful to the United States. NATO expansion, he said, would be a “tragic mistake” that will lead to a new Cold war. Unfortunately, his words are not heard. The policy of expanding NATO, shifting military infrastructure eastward and military-political ejection of Russia towards its borders started.

In everyday life, one rarely thinks that the European prosperity and security, our tranquility and peace are based on bilateral military and political agreements between the US and USSR from the time of the Cold War. The Treaty for limiting missile defense systems from 1972 (which prohibits the deployment of missile defense to deter opposing strategic nuclear forces), the Treaty on the Elimination of Missiles of Medium and Small Range of Action (removing all nuclear and conventional ground-based ballistic missiles with a range of 500 km – 5 500 km), the consequent agreements limiting strategic nuclear forces (SALT-1,2, START 1,2,3) and the agreement excluding the expansion of NATO eastward, create a strategic balance that guarantees the non-use of military means, thanks to which peace prevails in Europe. Today all this is destroyed right in front of our eyes.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” In 1941, the Nazi military command explained to the officers and the personnel positioned on the Soviet border that this is … an offensive on Persia (now Iran) with Russian permission to punish the British. Ironically, the United States justified with an Iranian threat the first colossal impact on the strategic balance. In 2002, the US exited the Treaty, limiting missile defenses and moved the US military infrastructure to Russia’s borders, which Washington leaders justified by nonexistent Iranian nuclear missiles. As stated by Russian President, Vladimir Putin, during the recently-held economic forum in St. Petersburg, it is obvious that from the beginning, Washington uses deception. After the nuclear agreement, Iran’s nuclear “threat” no longer exists. The Russian leader rhetorically asked “Why did they then built an anti-missile system in Romania?”

The purpose of the risky game, the stakes of which is the life of every single person on this planet, is actually the attempt for military supremacy over Russia by dominating over strategic and nuclear forces. Along with the missile defense, an offensive strategy must rely on percussion forces to “zero” the threat of Russian ballistic missiles before they are launched. For this purpose, the United States developed the doctrine of so-called “lightning global strike” (Prompt Global Strike).

In 2010, Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, formally announced the US ability to cause a “global lightning strike,” which in theory should be able to destroy a set of objectives within an hour with precision missiles without using nuclear weapons. Here, however, comes the problem of the strategists of the Pentagon: American missiles cannot reach Russian positions near the Ural Mountains.

What secrets does the “Aegis” hide?

The East Room of the White House is the biggest and most lavish room at the residence of the US head of state. At this place, weddings of presidential daughters have been conducted and memorial services have been held for the bodies of the seven of the eight presidents who died during their terms as presidents. Here documents are signed that built the “American exceptionalism” of a nation called to establish world peace, such as the Briand-Kellogg Pact rejecting war as a tool of state policy, the agreement between Nixon and Brezhnev for peaceful use of atomic energy, the Treaty of Camp David that led to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979. The East Room is the place where on December 8, 1987 the second fundamental of strategic balance was laid, ensuring world peace. This is the Treaty on the Elimination of Missiles of Medium and Small Range of Action signed between the leaders Gorbachov and Reagan. Europe may already be calm because there is no threat of a nuclear apocalypse. Successively withdrawn and eliminated are all land-based ballistic missiles with a range between 500 km and 5 500 km. The key word, however, is ‘land-based’. Based on this limitation, the hawks in the Pentagon relying on creating a hidden powerful hit component for applying the first disarming strike, developed and implemented in the US Navy during the last decade the battle system “Aegis” (Aegis Combat System), which is officially designated as missile defense.

‘Aegis’ in Greek mythology is the shield that Zeus used in the battle with the Titans to defend himself. Subsequently, it was used for both defense and attack. For this purpose, the head of Medusa was placed in the middle, fossilising everyone who looked at her and the shield was given to Athena – goddess of wisdom and war strategies, whose symbol is the snake and the owl. The parallels are instructive.

The missile umbrella directed against Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons is accompanied by a powerful hit component – the system MK-41 VLS, allowing the launch of “Tomahawk” missiles .Because they are based on ships, these missiles, enabling the transfer of 2 500 km range missiles do not fall within the restrictions of the Treaty of 1987. This is the specific military strategic explanation for the “Maidan” in Ukraine and the attempts to push the capable to counteract the American destroyers Russian fleet from the Crimea.

The ‘Aegis’ is not a reaction to some imaginary “Russian aggression,” nor is it a response to the crisis in Syria. Pentagon strategists have developed the technical parameters of the project for years. Officially, the decision to build a “missile shield” in Europe which covers the Mediterranean direction of impact was taken back in 2012 at the NATO Summit in Chicago and a little later in the Mediterranean the destroyers “Carney,” “Donald Cook,” “Ross” and “Porter” arrived with “Tomahawk” missiles on board.

Not by accident in the midst of the Ukrainian events, the Sixth Fleet, led by the aircraft carrier “George HW Bush” took positions on the Black Sea straits and the destroyer, “Donald Cook,” approached the Crimean coast before being stopped. From the accumulated evidence comes the solid conclusion that the Ukrainian crisis is a consequence of the Russian resistance to attempts for a military campaign against Syria. Failing to remove the Mediterranean Navy of Moscow, the hawks in the Pentagon turned to the dangerous plan “B” – banishment of the Black Sea fleet from Sevastopol, which automatically leaves the divisions in the Eastern Mediterranean cut off. As it became clear from the statements of the leaders of the “right sector” and the party “Freedom” which are the perpetrators of the Ukrainian coup, the “victorious march” on the “Maidan” had to be completed by the disposal of the Russian fleet from Sevastopol.

But Moscow established political control over the Russian and Russian-speaking population of Crimea and deployed air defense, missile systems, aviation and anti- ship system “Bastion” and simply parried completely any opportunity to extend the sea-based “Tomahawk” missiles to the Urals.

Did the second pillar of international stability collapse?

The Pentagon realised the impossibility of ensuring naval superiority over Russia and it was combined with a shock from an event – the modernisation of Russian arms and especially the development of precision missiles. The United States exited from the Treaty on the AMS 2002, which incidentally agreed with facts about the development of a Russian missile programme. Pentagon strategists apparently relied on finding in financial difficulties at the beginning of the century that Russia will fail to modernise the outdated military heritage of the Soviet Union.

Washington even called the large-scale Russian armaments programme until 2020 a “paper tiger.” That is why the shock of the West must have been very big when on 7 October 2015, 26 cruise missiles of class “Caliber,” launched from the water area of the Caspian Sea and flew more than a thousand kilometres and struck with precision targets of “Islamic State.” The very next day, the Pentagon pulled the aircraft carrier, “Theodore Roosevelt,” from the Persian Gulf for “repairs,” and thus for the first time since 2007, the region was left without coverage in the midst of strained relations with Moscow. At first sight, the two events are unrelated, but it is only seemingly.

The carrier, “Theodore Roosevelt,” is named after the 26th US president – which was the number of rockets fired. With this move, the Russian military revealed to the colleagues in Washington that the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf is an easy target for Russian precision weapons. The carrier was left uncovered from missile defense systems, which considering the AMS, the sub-systems for correcting terrains of the area and the ability of the “Caliber” to carry tactical nuclear charge might prove to be ineffective.

Building a complete base of the Russian Navy in Tartus in this context will cement the defense capabilities of the Russian FederationThis, together with the preparation of a common missile defense system between Turkey and Russia using components from China, as announced by the Spokesperson of the Turkish President, Ibrahim Cullen, turn the south flank of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea into an impregnable fortress, ensuring the defense of the Russian strategic nuclear weapons from the south. Intentionally or not, a little later in the day after the announcement of the idea of a Russian-Turkish missile shield, the Turkish resort of Antalya came under fire from three rockets, shot by unidentified militants.

Map

There are serious signs feeding fears that in pursuit of the sick ambition for military superiority over Russia, the hawks in Washington will break down the second pillar of the system of strategic balance – the Treaty on the Elimination of Missiles of Medium and Small Range. After failing to break through the missile blockade in the southern seas, the deployment of the so-called missile defense system in Romania and Poland is essentially, among others, an indirect breach of contract for missiles with a medium range. The present anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe are based on the universal platform MK-41 and its technical specifications allow launching “Tomahawk” missiles with a range of 2 500 km at any point of the Russian European territories in violation of the prohibition of the contract.

There is hardly anything that threatened world security as much as this move of Washington. Even the Cuban Missile Crisis was not charged with such a high risk level. People do not understand how potentially dangerous the situation really is. “The world is pulled into an entirely new dimension, while Washington pretends that nothing happens,” Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said, adding that Western officials “blur the eyes of the news media” which in turn misinforms their audiences.

In 2007 already, the Chief of General Staff of the Russian army warned that the deployment of missile defense systems in Eastern Europe could lead to Russia exiting the Treaty on the Elimination of Weapons of Medium and Small Range. The concern of the Russian side was confirmed recently by the President of the Federation Council’s Defense and Safety, Victor Ozerov, who conceded the possibility for Russia to exit the Treaty on limitation of strategic offensive weapons – the third pillar of the system of strategic balance. With the ratification of the new treaty, the Russian Parliament expressly stated that the deployment of missile defense system could be a reason for his denunciation. Ever since its conclusion during the Cold War, the USSR assumes its implementation with respect to the ABM Treaty.

The latest move is understandable – American missiles of medium and short range are located far from the coast of the United States. Because of the ability to strike targets in Russia they have a strategic character, unlike Russian analogues that cannot reach US territory.

The situation in Syria is exacerbating in front of our eyes, and the militarisation of Eastern Europe and the destruction of strategic balance will mean that an accidental spark would be able to ignite a global war. In response to the article announcing the US strikes on the forces of the Syrian army, published in the Washington Post (close to the circle of the “hawks”), the official representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense declared readiness of the Russian army to bring down any American plane that constitutes a danger.

Military strategic plans of the warmongers in the Pentagon exclude reaching an understanding with Russia on Syria: Russia simply must leave Tartus. This is the reason for the failed peace arrangements between Presidents Putin and Obama and air strikes by the US, in which as per unofficial information, Russian military instructors had died. The Kremlin’s response was quick and “Caliber” missiles struck targets including the headquarters of Western intelligence troops as per unofficial sources.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, directly said that the security services of the United States, and not the White House, dictate the foreign policy to Syria. “Despite the fact that the commander of the US is the president, Barack Obama has always supported, to my knowledge, cooperation with Russia and confirmed this during the meeting with Putin in China. It seems to me that the military does not listen to the commander,” Lavrov said. Everything points to the fact that Barack Obama is the “brake” to further escalation of the conflict. As he said, the decision to strikes in Libya is his greatest political error, and after that, his resistance against intervention in Syria, the Nobel laureate for peace showed that he continues to be a supporter of non-violent methods in politics. But Obama’s mandate ends and elections for the president of the United States seemingly do not promise anything about “doves” prevailing. The initiator of the end of the Cold War, Mikhail Gorbachov, recently said that the world “is approaching the danger zone.”

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