Attempts to separate terrorists into good ones and bad ones are not only short-sighted, it is criminal.
This article is written by the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu. Originally appeared at VPK, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront
Peace in Syria is very fragile; the negotiations with representative of the opposition are difficult. How will the situation resolve? Which side will the coalition led by the USA be pressuring? Is the coordinated war on international terrorism possible? The answers to these questions were sought at the V Moscow Conference on International Security. The forum gathered about 500 representatives of military institutions and international organisations from 80 countries. The defence industries offer readers speeches that set the direction and the level of discussion
It is the fifth year that the leaders of the military institutions, prominent and public political figures, authoritative representatives from the academic and non-governmental organisations from different countries gather in Spring in Moscow for a serious and candid dialogue. It is tradition that we present questions for discussion, solutions from which depends the security of ordinary people and whole governments.
Since our last meeting, the world did not become more stable. Regardless of Russia’s joint efforts with other governments, in a number of regions the situation is far from stable. There are military operations. Block mindsets are developing. We can observe a visibly intrusive line of a few countries dictating their will to the international community.
It is obvious that the threshold of the application of force is lowered. They continue to implement dangerous for the fate of the world projects of missile defence, first strike global action, including the use of high-precision weapons for long-range strikes, comparable in effect to nuclear weapons. This undermines the already fragile architecture of world and regional security.
In this article, as never before, much needed new proposals on strengthening equitable and mutually respectful military cooperation, which must encourage working out fair and responsible policies in political decisions.
The word must come from Washington
Terrorism has become the number one problem for all of us.
A good example for this would be the destruction of the Russian passenger plane over the Sinai, the latest Islamist attacks in Europe, rampant terror in the Middle East, where a number of countries are on the verge of losing statehood, the situation in Afghanistan, attempts by militants to gain additional footholds in the Asia-Pacific region and Central Asia.
For the world community it is time to unite. At the initiative of the President of the Russian Federation, the creation of a broad anti-terrorist coalition operating on the basis of international law and the provisions of the UN Charter can and must be done. I would like to emphasise that any attempts to flirt with terrorists, to separate them between good ones and bad ones, and to arm them to achieve selfish political goals is not only short-sighted, it is is criminal.
For the Ministry of Defence the removal of this threat is of foremost priority. The President of Russia determined our main goal: stop terrorism in distant regions, not give them the opportunity to come to our country. It is precisely this task that we are solving in Syria, where with full accordance with international law at the request of the legitimate government, provided the support to the Syrian army in its fight with, banned in Russia, the Islamic State, al-Nusra Front and other criminal groups.
Terrorism received a powerful blow in Syria. The military, material, technical and financial infrastructure of the fighters has been undermined; their training camps and arms deposits were destroyed. With the support of the Russian Aerospace forces, the Syrian army freed 500 settlements and more than ten thousand square kilometres of its territory. Government forces and patriotic opposition forces managed to seize the initiative on all key positions. But most importantly, they have created the condition for the beginning of the peace process.
This allowed us to adjust our work in Syria. By the decision of the President of the Russia, part of the Aerospace Forces was withdrawn from the territory of the country, and the remaining air force continues to strike bandit formations. We intend to systematically destroy the economic base of Islamic State, its main source of revenue – the smuggling of oil.
The Ministry of Defence of Russia has repeatedly shown who delivers and who receives the stolen oil, where the terrorists get their money. With joint decisive actions, we must put an end to it.
Today Russia’s efforts are concentrated on the political resolution of the conflict, humanitarian aid to the inhabited regions, victims of terrorism.
The turning point in the conflict in Syria was the liberation of Palmyra from the Islamic State. Now it is necessary to create the condition for reconstruction of this heritage world site: to demine it, insure security and normal work condition for the UNESCO specialists. We are counting on the practical support of all government, the United Nations Organization, including its special organizations, as well as regional centres of humanitarian demining.
In general, we estimated positively our collaboration with the United Sates in Syria. Bilateral agreements work on the prevention of incidents in the air. The military command structures collaborate and are responsible for the truce between the parties. A special responsibility for the maintenance of world peace lies on Russia and USA as permanent members of the Security Committee of the UNO.
Precisely because of this, our countries are obliged more closely to collaborate in the fight against international terrorist. We are ready for this. The word must come from Washington.
We often hear from our Western colleagues: Assad must go, and the bloodshed will stop in Syria. And the coalition, headed by the United States, will support Russia. However it is difficult to believe these “good intentions”. We have to ask the question: who prevented the restoration of peace, restoration of order in Iraq and Libya after the removal of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi?
The security of borders
The extension of videoconferencing systems with government members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the development of the military components of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the strengthening of the military organization with Belarus, are absolute priorities in the international activities of the Russian Defence Ministry.
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory, the symbol of unity and strong brotherhood of our countries took place during the parade. More than 700 service personnel from the CIS and other friendly governments took part in the ceremonial march on Red Square, paying tribute to the heroic efforts of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War.
We are interested that our allies and partners form into compact armed forces, highly mobile, equipped with the latest armaments and military equipment, able to reliably and effectively face the challenges and threats to national security. The logic of our actions is simple: the strengthening of the borders of the CSTO means strengthening the security of Russia. One of the common challenges is to prevent the spread of the plague of terrorism in the territories of the CIS.
We must pay particular attention in this context on the disturbing situation in the Central Asian region, from which the negative impact of the terrorist threat comes from Afghanistan. We are certain that the guarantee for stability comes from the Russian military bases in Tajikistan and the Kirghiz Republic. Together with our allies we will strengthen its military preparedness and that they in their turn will strengthen security in Dushanbe and Bishkek.
Our common interest is to increase the military component of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The Ministry of Defence of Russia initiated the creation at the SCO an institute of national military advisors. Its creation could enhance the efficiency of joint actions.
On the threshold of the absurd
Questions about European security will be discussed but the situation in this region is deplorable. Russian military cooperation with the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Eurozone is frozen, not by our fault. The April 20th meeting of the Russia-NATO Council did not bode well.
Old patterns of control over the armed forces have outlived their time. Unscrupulous partners occasionally use the current mechanisms. It will be difficult to create a new control architecture over conventional arms in the conditions of serious lack of trust in Europe.
There is a harsh and no-holds-barred information war waged against Russia. Statements are made about the threat from Moscow over European states, about the need for military deterrence against our country. To justify such actions absurd theses are circulated, that Russia is approaching NATO doorstep. All in all, everything is turned on its head.
Shouts from Brussels and other capitals are thrown in our direction. And if we talk of a possible dialogue, if only for priority issues, it is of course, in a tone of a stern teacher, chastising the unruly pupil.
At the same time, the USA and NATO initiated the deployment of military infrastructures closer to the Russian borders; the creation of dangerous missile defence plans and increases in military spending. Such actions force us to respond with adequate military means. With this, I would like to declare, we are against an armaments race.
It is obvious that attempts taken to isolate Russia during the critical phases of the crisis in the Ukraine failed. The act of the Turkish aggression with regards to the Russian bomber in Syria clearly demonstrate that the alliance turned out to be a pawn for political adventures of their individual members.
We are not against the resumption of relations with NATO but it has to be done absolutely on the basis of reciprocity, respect of national interests and equal and undivided security to all. It is better to communicate at the negotiation table and not through a gun sight.
We advocate the creation of equal and undivided security in the Asia-Pacific region. At its base, the Russian initiatives are the rule of international law, non-alignment peaceful resolution of disputes and conflicts, the non-use of force or its threats and respect of each other’s interests.
The meeting of leaders of defence departments of Russia and the country members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was held for the first time in the history of our relations. We openly shared ideas on the development of international military cooperation and problems of security. This meeting is an important contribution to the upcoming Russia-ASEAN summit, which will be held in Sochi and timed with the 20th anniversary of the dialogue partnership of our country with the governments of the association.
We see a common interest for cooperation in the fight against terrorism, the non-proliferation of arms of mass destruction and addressing emergency situations. We are planning to increase cooperation in the fight against piracy and the search and rescue of victims from disasters at sea.
There is good potential in the format of the meeting between the defence ministers of the ASEAN member countries and dialogue partners. For the last five year it became an effective, popular/acclaimed mechanism for regional military interaction.
I am confident that we have enough experience, knowledge and wisdom to work out concrete solutions in the strengthening of international and regional security.
Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, Army General