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Russia, Security

Kremlin power-show looming at Syria’s shores, a Déjà vu of sorts

It is clear that the United States and Russia are on a collision course at the shores of Syria. Russian websites (and here) linked to the military intelligence informs that the Kremlin decided to confront NATO forces. Three Russian warships had entered territorial waters near Tartus. It was built-in 1971 as an operational support for the Soviet strategic objective in the Southern Theater. According to the Russian sources, it is the Kremlin’s only naval military base abroad with probably 50 military personnel. Moreover, the Russian military naval base in Sevastopol was granted from the Ukraine parliament de facto extrateritorial jurisdiction to beyond 2017.

Russian sources in the Ministry of Defense denied in an interview for Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that none of the Kremlin’s military ships crossed the Syrian sea border. He added however that the Black Sea fleet vessel is participating in the Italian-Russian military training YONEX-2011 on the Mediterranean Sea. “Their goal is readiness for counterattack against asymmetrical threat” – he said. According to Sergiej Markov, Russian defense expert, Russian warships are going to shield its naval military base in Tartu. Markov emphasized that Russia “will be ready to defend her interests”.

(This map, published in the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, shows locations of the NATO and Russians bases in the region of Mediterranean Sea. In Naples there is the 6th US Navy Fleet, a military airforce base in Larisa (Greece) and in Izmir (Turkey). In Turkey there is also the US military base in Incirlk. The Russian army locations are in Sevastopol (Ukraine) and Tartu (Syria). In the left column Russians are naming the US Navy vessels reportedly anchored in Naples base. Below they name the Russians vessels in Sevastopol. For their propaganda objectives they try to contrast super power with supposedly light Russian armoury. So they name mostly the antisubmarine weapons and vessels. One has to remember however that they never revealed the types of weapons in Sevastopol even after so-called the fall of Soviet Empire. )

Iranian propaganda paper Teheran Times interpreted this fact as a sign of Russian opposition to change Syrian regime.

This situation seems to be Déjà vu of sorts. It was June 12th, 1989. Russian contingent jumped in to seize the airport in Pristina in former Yugoslavia prior to NATO forces moving in. Military NATO sources revealed that Russians were moving a lot of stores out of the massive facility in the airport. (It was most probably chemicals for the production of chemical weapons). The incident occurred between the Russian Kosovo Force and RAF regiment (2nd squadron). According to NATO sources the Russians were constantly trying to block aid flights from Turkey. In result there was stand-off between NATO and the Russians who occupied the airport until they were integrated into peacekeeping duties. Through this intimidation they won independence of NATO. Only October 15th the Pristina airport became operational.

This time Russia will not allow any NATO soldiers to move in. And most probably they will liberate Syria, maybe even on behalf of the West, without moving out anything from even more massive facilities of mass destruction weapons for instance the Beqaa Valley. It may be pure coincidence that when US forces were approaching Baghdad the Russian ambassador was fleeing from Baghdad to Syria.

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