Active inclusion of the Russian Aerospace forces in the fight against international terrorist groups operating in the territory of Syria did not bring delight to western politicians and military strategists. More than that, the effective actions of our pilots forced the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the pro-American coalition to sit down at the negotiating table in Vienna together with the heads of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Iran and China.
The Turkish president was forced into the line of fire
While diplomats verified the lists (whom and where it is necessary to bomb) and evaluated the possibilities for a political settlement of the Syrian crisis, the leaders of the North Atlantic alliance came to their own conclusion in a military manner — Russia had seized the initiative in the Middle East, and it became an urgent matter for NATO to maintain control.
The Russian permanent representative at NATO, Alexander Grushko, noticed this. In early November he shared his observations on TV channel Russia 24. Soon thereafter, the military of the [US] alliance ceased to hide their intentions. At the Berlin Security Conference 2015, the Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Alexander Vershbow, publicly declared for the first time: “After the disintegration of the USSR, the West, rather than restraining Russia, directed its efforts to develop friendship and partnership with it and the countries of Eastern Europe, but current events require us again to return to a containment policy”.
Vershbow recognized that these approaches are a reminder of Cold War times, but the challenges of the times require the western allies “to be strong so that others fear to attack us”. The commander-in-chief of the incorporated armed forces of NATO in Europe, American General Philip Breedlove, clarified the position that the alliance does not consider Russians to be partners any longer.
At the G20 summit in Turkish Belek, US President Obama already knew about the mood of the American generals. Therefore in his brief meeting with Vladimir Putin, there was no discussion of joint actions against terrorist groups, but rather how to avoid military clashes between military pilots of our countries in the skies of Syria. Among other things, it was agreed to exchange information on which flight levels, and where and when aircraft will operate.
At the summit, Barack Obama had meetings with his closest allies. There flashed a report that the Turkish president requested, from the American, permission to destroy the Russian aircraft in his own border zone. Obama supposedly nodded to the Turk in reply. Whether or not this is so is not important. First, it is quite obvious that the Turkish authorities had reasons for dissatisfaction with Russia. After all our military had seriously destroyed the plans of the Turks, and moreover struck at their thieving income. Secondly, subsequent events have shown that the operations of planes of the western coalition in the Turkish border region were not simply coordinated, but were even joint operations.
A military expert, specialist in the field of military aerospace forces Alexey Leonkov, brought attention to this. He noted that the attack on the Su-24M2 of the Russian aerospace forces was planned in advance by Turkey and its military partners. “Turkish interceptors waited in ambush for our airplane, while on the ground a diversionary and reconnaissance group disguised as local Turkomans was positioned. CNN and FOX film crews were notified in advance …”, as Leonkov was cited on the REGNUM news agency.
It is not so simple to carry out an ambush on a high-speed target. One plane could not possibly accomplish this maneuver on its own. The Turks had reliable assistants, even several. As the military expert says, the operation developed this way: “A U.S. Air Force Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS went up on November 24 from Preveza air base in Greece. The second E-3A of the Saudi Arabian Air Force went up from Riyadh air base. Both planes executed one common task – to determine the precise locations of Russia ASF aircraft . They also selected a “victim”. Accuracy of fire of the F-16CJ fighters was additionally provided by the US Patriot air defense ground systems positioned in Turkey, and more precisely their multipurpose radar stations”.
The commander-in-chief of the aerospace forces of the Russian Federation, Victor Bondarev, confirmed this on Friday. In his words, “the firing method of the F-16C plane into the allowed flight zone, rather than on a pursuit trajectory, provides evidence that the fighter was being given guidance control from a ground-based administration point”.
Alexey Leonkov in rather detailed manner set forth the development of this multivector operation to destroy the Russian bomber. This was based on information which our military shared with Americans, according to the arrangement of the presidents of the two countries.
Washington was informed in advance about “where, when, and at what flight levels our pilots will operate. The American side, which heads a coalition that includes Turkey, knew the location and time of arrival of our planes, both exactly at that location and at the time that we received the attack”, acknowledged Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference with the president of France this past Thursday.
Instead of a fight against terrorists, Americans are fighting for leadership
In a word, the operation was planned and coordinated. Not by chance did the president of Turkey on his side call on the allies for support and request the call of an emergency meeting of ambassadors of NATO countries. This meeting would show Russia the determination and unity of North Atlantic alliance. This did not turn out that way.
The reaction of our leaders was unexpected by NATO politicians. Instead of accepting guilt and repenting, Moscow extremely rigidly defined its position – it is prepared to break off relations with Turkey and punish it for the destruction of the aircraft and the death of the Russian military personnel, using all capabilities of the Ministry of Defense.
In addition, French president François Hollande introduced disarray in western policies. Demoralized by acts of terrorism in Paris, he went about the world, gathering a wide coalition to fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East.
It must be recognized that Hollande’s mission was initially a failure. First of all, because the Parisian tragedy is connected less to the Middle East than with home-grown terrorists, who in Europe are a dime a dozen. After the November tragedy, French inspectors found nests of terrorists in the Parisian quarter of Saint-Denis, in the emigrant district of Brussels Molenbeek, and even in the airports of capital cities.
As reported by Police Prefect Philippe Riffeau, just at Charles de Gaulle Airport 57 workers were dismissed on suspicion of radical views. Here after the introduction of a state of emergency in France, searches were conducted and copies of radical Islamic printed materials were found in employee lockers. Other examples revealed that the main terrorist threat to Europeans is first of all from local migrants, and more precisely their children – in the second and even third generations.
The French president decided to fight against terrorism by gathering under a unified banner the leading states of the planet. But this was his second mistake. The fact is that the initiative in resolving the Middle Eastern crisis and destroying terrorist groups has firmly passed to Russia. Its military has in one and a half months done more than the coalition of sixty states led by America did in the two previous years.
The world appreciated this. Now, a painful blow has been struck against the authority of the United States. Hence Washington met the president of France very coolly. For the Americans, fitting into second coalition with Russian is somewhat awkward. Besides, the naive Hollande did not consider that the United States has already passed from partner relations to the mode of containing Russia – in other words, to confrontation.
Before the beginning of operations of the Russian ASF in Latakia, retired General John Allen, appointed by the White House as coordinator for issues of interfacing the USA with other countries in the fight against the IS group, declared on the CNN TV channel that confrontation of the USA and the Russian Federation is possible in Syria.
This was emphasized in detail before the first bombs from the Russian planes had yet to fall on the heads of the terrorists. The representative of US State Department, Admiral John Kirby, informed local mass media that the goal of Russia in Syria is not to fight against the Islamic State, but rather the destruction of the “moderate opposition”.
After a week of operation of our planes in the Syrian sky, the actions of the western coalition became systematic and coordinated. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs distributed on October 7 a statement made on behalf of the USA, Great Britain, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, in which they urged Russia to stop attacks on objects of the moderate Syrian opposition and instead concentrate on fighting IS.
The reason for such informational pressure was explained by the former representative of the USA to the United Nations, John Bolton. The retired diplomat told the audience of the Voice of America radio station: “Vladimir Putin’s overall goal is to replace the USA with itself as the main external force in the Middle East”. In Bolton’s view, the response of the American side must be a withdrawal from Obama’s indistinct Middle Eastern policy: “It is essential for us to develop a new strategy, possibly supposing the creation of a new Sunni state as an alternative to ISIL, and a rupture of the Russian-Iranian axis”.
Redrawing the boundary …
It is on such a background that the French president, who signed the October statement condemning the actions of Russia, came to Vladimir Putin to create a broad coalition in Syria. It must be recognized that in this failed mission the parties could save face, agreeing to exchange reconnaissance information. It was even possible even to bring together the positions somewhat.
After meetings in Moscow, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Laurent Fabius, began to speak about cooperation with Assad’s governmental armies, as reported the English Reuters news agency. Hollande also completely called for blocking the Syrian-Turkish border, which is being used now for deliveries to Islamic terrorists of weapons, equipment, and food.
The Americans actively entered the subject. They felt that the governmental armies of Syria could execute this work, but then the western coalition again remains out of work. As the New York business newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, wrote on Friday referring to sources in State department, “The United States is putting pressure on Turkey to place additionally several thousand military along the border with Syria”. These troops must block the militants on Syrian territory.
Officials of the USA say that the additional contingent on the border of Turkey, which will include infantry and artillery, will be able to effectively block key transit routes of Islamic terrorists and stop the flow of foreign militants to Europe. “The rules of the game have changed”, as the Wall Street Journal quotes the representative of the US administration. “There is a threat of international scale, starting with Syria and passing through the territory of Turkey”. The Turkish authorities understood the last message in their own way: they again began talking not only about covering the border, but also about a security zone on Syrian territory. In turn, the Turks confirmed their intentions to control the lands where the related Turkomans live.
So instead of cooperation and interaction within the wide coalition suggested by Hollande, a new center of contention arises. One more attempt to capture the military initiative in the Middle East is available. But this will precisely not add peace and agreement …
“It is on such a background that the French president, who signed the October statement condemning the actions of Russia, came to Vladimir Putin to create a broad coalition in Syria. It must be recognized that in this failed mission the parties could save face, agreeing to exchange reconnaissance information. It was even possible even to bring together the positions somewhat.”
Hollande went to Moscow with 2 purposes (appropriately enough).The first and primary purpose was to bring a message of warning, and an offer of ‘cooperation’ from the US led axis (NATO) – accept our preeminence in this matter( and all others) and we can create a “narrative” that allows Russia to save face and claim victory over the terrorists. Probably,also, this appeal was made in such a way as to imply that the U.S. could, in the future, be more “sensitive” to Russian security and domestic political realities. The second purpose was essentially clinical.Hollande was to gauge and determine the depth and quality of the Russian’s resolve, vis a vis Syrian political continuity – are they ready to chuck Assad over the railing. The French have been performing this two faced diplomatic performance for Russians, for ages, or at least since the 1930’s. Anyway, this is my impressions.