AuthorTopic: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria  (Read 2785 times)

Offline Palloy

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Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« on: March 14, 2016, 01:27:21 PM »
In yet another surprise move, Putin announces the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria.  The straightforward interpretation of this decision is, as he says, that the ceasefire is holding well enough for the political peace process to begin.  But Putin is anything but straightforward, and the ceasefire is shaky at best, and the peace conference is far from likely to achieve any outcome.

It puts pressure on Assad and the "moderate rebels" to be more accommodating at the talks, otherwise fighting is sure to resume.  Indirectly it puts pressure on the US too, but their influence over the moderate rebels is not as strong as they would like to make out.  And it does seem to take pressure off the US-supported "non-moderate rebels" or ISIS and Al Nusra and their backers, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps this is about dumping the whole mess back in Obama's lap, as any fighting now is going to be all down to the US and its "allies", who are in total disagreement over what to do next.

https://www.rt.com/news/335554-putin-orders-syria-withdrawal/
Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria, says ‘objectives achieved’
14 Mar, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu to start the withdrawal of forces from Syria starting Tuesday. Russia will however keep a military presence at the port of Tartus and at the Khmeimim airbase to observe ceasefire agreements.

“I consider the objectives that have been set for the Defense Ministry to be generally accomplished. That is why I order to start withdrawal of the main part of our military group from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic starting from tomorrow,” Putin said on Monday during a meeting with Shoigu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"In a short period of time Russia has created a small but very effective military group [in Syria]... the effective work of our military allowed the peace process to begin," Putin said, adding that with the assistance of the Russian Air Force "Syrian government troops and patriotic forces have changed the situation in the fight with international terrorism and have ceased the initiative."

To control the observation of ceasefire agreements in the region, Moscow will keep its Khmeimim airbase in Latakia province and a base at the port of Tartus, Putin said.

At Moscow's initiative, a phone conversation between Vladimir Putin and Syria's President Bashar Assad was held on Monday evening, the Kremlin reported.

The two leaders agreed that the actions of Russia's Air Force in Syria have allowed them to "profoundly reverse the situation" in connection to fighting terrorists in the region, having "disorganized militants' infrastructure and inflicted fundamental damage upon them."

Bashar Assad has recognized the “professionalism, courage and heroism” of Russian Army soldiers and officers, who have taken part in the military action, thanking Russia not only for extensive help in the fight against terrorism, but also for providing humanitarian aid and assistance to the Syrian civilian population.

The Syrian leader also stressed its readiness to engage in the political process in Syria as soon as possible, the Kremlin said.

Russia's president also addressed his foreign minister. He had tasked Lavrov with intensifying Russia's participation in the peace process to solve the Syrian crisis, the Kremlin reported.

Moscow launched its anti-terror campaign in Syria on September 30 last year. Russia’s participation in the operation, according to a previous statement by Putin, has its basis in international law and has been conducted “in accordance with an official request from the president of the Syrian Arab Republic [Bashar Assad].”

The Russian Air Force has been carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other terrorist targets in the region, eliminating military equipment, communication centers, vehicles, arms and fuel depots.
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Offline agelbert

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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2016, 02:08:50 PM »
In yet another surprise move, Putin announces the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria.  The straightforward interpretation of this decision is, as he says, that the ceasefire is holding well enough for the political peace process to begin.  But Putin is anything but straightforward, and the ceasefire is shaky at best, and the peace conference is far from likely to achieve any outcome.

It puts pressure on Assad and the "moderate rebels" to be more accommodating at the talks, otherwise fighting is sure to resume.  Indirectly it puts pressure on the US too, but their influence over the moderate rebels is not as strong as they would like to make out.  And it does seem to take pressure off the US-supported "non-moderate rebels" or ISIS and Al Nusra and their backers, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps this is about dumping the whole mess back in Obama's lap, as any fighting now is going to be all down to the US and its "allies", who are in total disagreement over what to do next.

https://www.rt.com/news/335554-putin-orders-syria-withdrawal/
Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria, says ‘objectives achieved’
14 Mar, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu to start the withdrawal of forces from Syria starting Tuesday. Russia will however keep a military presence at the port of Tartus and at the Khmeimim airbase to observe ceasefire agreements.

“I consider the objectives that have been set for the Defense Ministry to be generally accomplished. That is why I order to start withdrawal of the main part of our military group from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic starting from tomorrow,” Putin said on Monday during a meeting with Shoigu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"In a short period of time Russia has created a small but very effective military group [in Syria]... the effective work of our military allowed the peace process to begin," Putin said, adding that with the assistance of the Russian Air Force "Syrian government troops and patriotic forces have changed the situation in the fight with international terrorism and have ceased the initiative."

To control the observation of ceasefire agreements in the region, Moscow will keep its Khmeimim airbase in Latakia province and a base at the port of Tartus, Putin said.

At Moscow's initiative, a phone conversation between Vladimir Putin and Syria's President Bashar Assad was held on Monday evening, the Kremlin reported.

The two leaders agreed that the actions of Russia's Air Force in Syria have allowed them to "profoundly reverse the situation" in connection to fighting terrorists in the region, having "disorganized militants' infrastructure and inflicted fundamental damage upon them."

Bashar Assad has recognized the “professionalism, courage and heroism” of Russian Army soldiers and officers, who have taken part in the military action, thanking Russia not only for extensive help in the fight against terrorism, but also for providing humanitarian aid and assistance to the Syrian civilian population.

The Syrian leader also stressed its readiness to engage in the political process in Syria as soon as possible, the Kremlin said.

Russia's president also addressed his foreign minister. He had tasked Lavrov with intensifying Russia's participation in the peace process to solve the Syrian crisis, the Kremlin reported.

Moscow launched its anti-terror campaign in Syria on September 30 last year. Russia’s participation in the operation, according to a previous statement by Putin, has its basis in international law and has been conducted “in accordance with an official request from the president of the Syrian Arab Republic [Bashar Assad].”

The Russian Air Force has been carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other terrorist targets in the region, eliminating military equipment, communication centers, vehicles, arms and fuel depots.


It's not a surprise to me. It's also not a surprise to me that Erdogan just had the war come home to Turkey. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/ankara-bombing-one/2600226.html?cx_tag=trendingworld&cid=tg:recos:trendingworld:standard#cxrecs_s

Russia might or might not be behind this terrorist attack. I tend to think, like I told Surly a while ago when you and other people wrongly thought that WWIII was going to be triggered in Syria, that the generals in Turkey have simply sent the message to their jackals that it is time to "undermine" the confidence in Erdogan, for Turkey's own good and to return the country to sanity. Please note the date on the following post. I anticipated correctly what has transpired, whether you want to accept that, or not.   


Week Eighteen of the Russian Intervention in Syria: A Dramatic Escalation Appears Imminent

    Excellent article. The Saker knows his stuff.

My only observation is that Russia is in a better position than the "coalition" to maintain air superiority. Unless somebody in the US oligarchy wants a shooting war with Russia based on lots of dead coalition troops, they will muzzle Turkey. Erdogan is in a precarious position in his country and he knows it. Sure, it would be just like him to try to invade in order to prevent his ouster due to the continued exposure of his massive corruption. But if that is green lighted by our knuckle draggers in the MIC, Erdogan is the designated fall guy because his troops will have their asses handed to them. I'm sure he has a few generals under him that may decide discretion is the better part of valor and act to depose Erdogan on some exposed corruption. Erdogan has so many skeletons in his closet that he could corner the calcium market in turkey!

Here's what Saker is missing. The MAIN reason all this S H I T goes on down there is because of a resource of polluting energy called oil. Russia has lots of oil and gas and Saker sees them the way the Russian government sees them (allegedly valuable energy sources).

Saker, therefore, does NOT see the connection between cratering fossil fuel prices worldwide and the coming peace in that region. I do.

It ain't about religion, no matter what we have been told. It never was. It's about "national interests".  "National interests" in the coalition are ALL ABOUT VALUABLE energy or mineral sources, PERIOD.

When something (that the MIC has been coveting and fighting over since Standard Oil took over most of this country's foreign policy predatory piggery) is no longer very valuable, the wind goes out of the sails of the Wall Street Greed MACHINE behind EVERY military action since WWII. Yes the doffense contractors will lose some money, but they were never in the driver's seat of our foreign policy, despite their war profiteering MO in every war this country has been involved with. The fossil fuel industry has DOMINATED US foreign policy for well over a century. And the fossil fuel industry is STRONG in Russia. So, they are as much stuck in their "real world" as the coalition is.

The bottom line is that people fight over valuable stuff. There is no money in fighting over oil producing regions anymore. This is BASIC game theory. Our MIC bases ALL its plans and actions on game theory, unlike Russia. The MONEY is now, because of the high tech snooping of everybody and his mother now available, in nickel and diming we-the-sheeple 24/7. It's mostly invisible and it keeps the oligarchs in place. The MIC is happy as long s they can "justify" the giant logistics swag they now enjoy required to operate all their bases. The MIC will, of course, continue to occasionally terrorize and butcher a few humans here and there to make sure congress doesn't forget the, uh, "national security" justification for the humongous budget we-the-suckers must provide for these Welfare Queens with very big teeth. The MIC is just as happy not having to lose any people in wars if the swag keeps coming in. And the weapons makers too because the military practices a LOT blowing stuff up and shooting bullets. Their Wall Street backed "business model" works great as long as we-the=suckers in the USA swallow their "national security" propaganda. I'm sure Lockheed Martin is grateful to all of us for helping fund their solar panel infrastructure improvements that will provide Renewable energy based electrical power for their weapons making factories.  ::)

I predict peace in Syria punctuated by occasional incursions from Israeli jets to keep the money flowing from our gooberment to our pet "democracy" (Israeli Oligarchy). Our favorite mediaeval Sheikdom of butchers and perverts (the Saudis) will join in on the fun with token incursions to keep our money flowing to them too. After all, they have been loyal servants of Big Oil for many years. We must do all we can to bolster their efforts to pump oil out of the ground with solar panel generated electricity. We wouldn't want them to lose money, now would we?  ;)     


As they used to say in my Russian Language classes at West Point, Klass Konchen (класс распущен).
« Last Edit: March 14, 2016, 02:11:10 PM by agelbert »
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Offline Palloy

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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2016, 03:48:10 PM »
It isn't entirely clear just what is being pulled out - the port at Tartus (you could hardly call it a base, more a berth) is to remain, and the air base at Khmeimim, so there will still be forces to protect them.  And there will be peace-monitoring flights, so the airbase won't be moth-balled but still operational.  And presumably the S-400 air defences will remain and be operational.  The ground forces could be flown out, and the fighter jets and bombers fly out via Iraq-Iran, but they could be flown back in just as easily.

This, just yesterday, didn't sound like the Russian Air Force was pulling out.  Quite the opposite, and a completely logical and predictable development.

https://southfront.org/russia-is-ready-to-work-with-america-on-liberation-of-raqqa-lavrov/
Russia is ready to work with America on liberating Raqqa : Lavrov
14 March 2016

The US has shown interest to divide the operations in Syria where the US-led coalition partners to recapture Raqqa, and Russia to capture ancient city of Palmyra in the central Homs Province.

In an interview with the Ren-TV Russia’s Foreign Minister said that Russia is ready to work with the US in liberating Raqqa from ISIS terrorists.

    “We are ready to coordinate our actions with the Americans, because Raqqa is in the eastern part of Syria, and the American coalition is mainly … acting there,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in that interview.

According to Lavrov, the US has shown interest to divide the operations in Syria where the US-led coalition partners to recapture Raqqa, and Russia to capture ancient city of Palmyra in the central Homs Province.

“Perhaps, this is no secret, if I say that at some stage the Americans suggested performing a ‘division of labor;’ the Russian Air forces should concentrate on the liberation of Palmyra, and the American coalition with Russian support will focus on the liberation of Raqqa,”  Lavrov stated.
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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2016, 05:23:05 PM »
So Russia is doing this as a means to very publicly take the moral high ground, and exposing the US as being on the moral low ground, just before the start of the peace talks?

https://southfront.org/putin-ordered-the-withdrawal-of-russian-forces-from-syria-from-march-15/

[ ... the usual report, then ...]

SouthFront has received a comment on the Russian military withdrawal from Syria from a source close to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Russia in international relations is continuing to show a fundamentally different approach than the US and the West. The decision on the partial withdrawal of its military from Syria is a move that clearly shows the commitment of the Russian leadership to the sequence of actions aimed at a comprehensive settlement of the crisis by peaceful means. Russia is not looking for an opportunity to gain a colonial resource-rich territory or create puppet regimes, but only provides the necessary and sufficient assistance in the fight against terrorism and extremism seeking to avoid escalation of the conflict and to minimize civilian casualties.”
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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2016, 05:46:21 PM »
So Russia is doing this as a means to very publicly take the moral high ground, and exposing the US as being on the moral low ground, just before the start of the peace talks?

https://southfront.org/putin-ordered-the-withdrawal-of-russian-forces-from-syria-from-march-15/

[ ... the usual report, then ...]

SouthFront has received a comment on the Russian military withdrawal from Syria from a source close to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Russia in international relations is continuing to show a fundamentally different approach than the US and the West. The decision on the partial withdrawal of its military from Syria is a move that clearly shows the commitment of the Russian leadership to the sequence of actions aimed at a comprehensive settlement of the crisis by peaceful means. Russia is not looking for an opportunity to gain a colonial resource-rich territory or create puppet regimes, but only provides the necessary and sufficient assistance in the fight against terrorism and extremism seeking to avoid escalation of the conflict and to minimize civilian casualties.”

If Russia pulls out, why would ISIS not be able to reestablish it's supply lines with Turkey?

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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2016, 06:48:14 PM »
Quote
If Russia pulls out, why would ISIS not be able to reestablish it's supply lines with Turkey?

Maybe they think the Syrian Army plus Hezbollah and the Iranians, and maybe the local Kurds, are enough to prevent that.  It is much easier to break the enemy's road supply lines than to take a big city like Aleppo.  If Turkey invades, all bets are off anyway.
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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2016, 12:12:17 AM »
Since the announcement was made on the same day that the peace talks in Geneva resumed, one must assume that the timing was not coincidental.  It seems strange at first that Putin didn't press ahead with further attacks and consolidation, so that Assad could negotiate from a position of strength.  So that implies that Putin felt he wants Assad and the rebels to negotiate from a position of equality, to increase the likelihood of a successful political outcome.

Here is the situation from ISW via BBC:



And the initial reaction has been very cautious:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35809087
In a phone call, Mr Putin and US President Barack Obama discussed the situation in Syria and the "next steps required to fully implement the cessation of hostilities" agreed last month, the White House said.

The Kremlin said both "called for an intensification of the process for a political settlement" to the conflict.

The Russian move received a guarded welcome from Western diplomats and the Syrian opposition.

"If there is seriousness in implementing the withdrawal, it will give the [peace] talks a positive push," said Salim al-Muslat, spokesman for the HNC.

An unnamed US official quoted by Reuters said Washington was encouraged by the Russian move, but it was too early to say what it means or what was behind it.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the move could be positive if it marked a real commitment to a political transition in Syria.

The German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said it would increase pressure on Mr Assad to finally and seriously negotiate.
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Offline g

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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2016, 03:13:57 AM »
We have been pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan for over a dozen or so years.  Those are only a few of course, but the most visible of what the phrase military withdrawal means.

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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2016, 06:28:11 PM »
This is the best article I have found, if you ignore the Ukrainian references.  But first a refresher on what Russia's stated goal was - it was NOT to grind ISIS into the dust.

Quote
http://www.interfax.ru/russia/472593 (via https://translate.google.com)
Moscow
October 11.

The problem of the Russian military operation in Syria - is the stabilization of the legitimate authority in the country, said Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Our task is to stabilize the legitimate authority and create conditions for a political compromise",
he said in an interview with the program "Sunday Night with Vladimir Solovyov" on TV channel "Russia-1".

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2016/03/15/its-the-perfect-moment-for-russia-to-leave-syria/
Russia drops the mic: Syria pullout comes at perfect moment
By Mark Galeotti   
A specialist on Russian security affairs, Mark Galeotti is professor of global affairs at New York University and a visiting fellow with the ECFR.
March 15, 2016

After five years of brutal fighting and two weeks of a scrappy ceasefire, President Vladimir Putin has suddenly announced that “the main part” of Russia’s forces currently in Syria will begin to be withdrawn. Assuming this is not some public relations stunt (and if it is, it will very quickly become clear, seriously damaging Moscow’s credibility), then it represents a shrewd and pragmatic move.

They will not go quickly, and it is still unclear quite who will be leaving and who will stay. The Tartus naval resupply station will remain in Moscow’s hands — presumably with some security forces — and so will the Hmeymime (Latakia) air base, implying that there will still be some Russian bombers along with their flight and technical crews, guards and commanders.

However, the creeping expansion of the ground forces contingent within the expeditionary force — first some Spetsnaz special forces for spotting, next some extra tanks, then heavy artillery — is presumably going to be reversed. This way, not only does Russia make itself less vulnerable to attacks from insurgents, it also sets aside the temptation to get more deeply involved in the fighting.

Speaking to officers in Moscow in an off-the-record session, one of their greatest concerns was of being swept up in a cycle of escalation if a serious attack was carried out against Russian forces by any of the many rebel groups. As one put it, “if the president sees this as a challenge, he’ll be tempted to send a brigade of paratroopers, and before you know it, we’re there for 10 years.”

This was not a casually chosen timeframe: 10 years is how long Soviet troops were mired in Afghanistan, another intervention that was expected to be short-lived and uncomplicated and turned out to be anything but.

Politicians tend to find it easier to start wars than to end them, to escalate rather than to withdraw. For a leader who clearly relishes his macho image and who has been articulating a very aggressive foreign policy in recent years to opt for such a stand-down is a striking act of statesmanship.

That said, Putin’s announcement that “the objectives given to the Defense Ministry and the Armed Forces as a whole have largely been accomplished” is probably accurate.

This intervention was, after all, never about “winning” the war in Syria: even the most starry-eyed optimist would not expect a relative handful of aircraft and ground forces to end this bloody and complex conflict. Nor was it primarily to save Bashar al-Assad’s skin and position.

Rather, it had three main objectives. Firstly, to assert Russia’s role in the region and its claim to a say in the future of Syria. Secondly, to protect Moscow’s last client in the Middle East, ideally by preserving Assad, but if need be by replacing him with some other suitable client. Thirdly, to force the West, and primarily Washington, to stop efforts diplomatically to isolate Moscow. For the moment, at least, all three have indeed been accomplished.

Now, Russia is a more significant player in Syria’s future than the United States. Influence is bought by blood and treasure; by being willing to put its bombers, guns and men into play, Moscow not only helped Assad but reshaped the narrative of the war. The Kurds and even some of the so-called “moderate rebels” are beginning to show willing to talk to the Russians.

At the time of the intervention, Assad’s forces were in retreat, momentum was favoring the rebels, and Moscow was terrified that the regime’s elite might begin to fragment. The client state the Soviets left behind when they withdrew from Afghanistan was actually surprisingly stable and effective. But when Defense Minister Shahnawaz Tani broke with President Najibullah, it began to break apart and was doomed; this was something Moscow feared could happen in Damascus.

However, the unexpected injection of Russian airpower on Sept. 30 not only changed the arithmetic on the battlefield, it also re-energized the regime. The scale of the bombing assault, with more than 9,000 sorties flown according Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, allowed government forces to turn back the tide. Not only were they able to retake Aleppo and some 400 other settlements by Shoigu’s count, but the Syrian Arab Army’s morale recovered considerably too, and with it Assad’s personal authority.

Finally, on the diplomatic front there is no question that Putin’s intervention did indeed end any hope of ignoring and isolating him. Russia and the United States are joint guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria now, and even in Ukraine the two countries have renewed conversations about a settlement in the Donbas, though it was Moscow that began the conflict.

In short, for once there is more truth than rhetoric in claims of a “mission accomplished.” By beginning to withdraw his forces, Putin also addresses three important concerns.

He will reassure a domestic audience that enjoyed the daily doses of gun-camera footage and upbeat military assessments, but remained worried that what started as a relatively bloodless — for the Russians — campaign could become something much more serious. Indeed, the military will also be happy, conscious as they are that the longer forces are in-country, the greater the risk of something going badly wrong. That’s not least because many of Russia’s senior officers served in Afghanistan.

He can present himself as a peacemaker; it is hardly a coincidence that this announcement was made on the first day of real negotiations in peace talks being held in Geneva. This will strengthen Russia’s claim to a role in those negotiations and the shaping of Syria’s future: a spokesman for the rebel High Negotiations Committee said that “if there is seriousness in implementing the withdrawal, it will give the talks a positive push.” It may also offset some of the ground lost internationally after a recent escalation of fighting in the Donbas and the show trial of kidnapped Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko.

Finally, Putin can retain the initiative, something he clearly savors. He has once again caught the West off guard (and probably also Assad for that matter: he seems to have been informed by Putin only earlier in the day).

He has reduced his exposure to reverses on the ground, but not abandoned Syria. Rather, he has the best of both worlds. He will retain not just some troops there but the ports and airfields which will allow him to surge forces back into Syria if need be — or simply just threaten to do so. He can also, as he has in the past, use long-range bomber strikes or cruise missiles fired from naval units to deliver devastating reminders of Russia’s military capabilities.

In short, this is at once classic, and yet also unusual Putin. It is a characteristic move in its decisiveness and its unexpectedness (even Russians within the defense and foreign affairs apparatuses appear to have been taken by surprise).

But Putin, especially in this presidential term, has up until now tended to default to escalation, confrontation and defiance. Even though it is for entirely pragmatic reasons, this is the first time he has stepped back from an adventure. It may prove to be a propaganda move, or short-lived. It may be precisely that he wants to concentrate on his vicious war in the Donbas. Or it may be that, his economy suffering, his elite worried and his people increasingly discontent, that this is the first sign of the emergence of a more pragmatic Putin, who has come to realize that his grand vision for a re-empowered Russia is actually driving it towards penury and chaos. Time will tell.
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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2016, 07:23:15 PM »
This is the best article I have found, if you ignore the Ukrainian references.

They're hard to ignore.

How does this analyst get that Moscow is prosecuting the war in Donbass?  There are no Ruskie troops there, just the Donbass Militia.  It's not Ruskies dropping bombs and heavy artillery on Kiev, it's UKROPs attacking Donetsk with Artillery.

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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2016, 07:45:55 PM »
Well he is CFR, so he has to maintain the fiction.  I suppose it means that Putin is still not going to be let off the hook for his "aggression".
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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2016, 07:49:51 PM »
Palloy, Please write this down: Turkey is NOT going invade ANYBODY. Your "If Turkey invades, all bets are off" bit of hysterical hyperbole is ridiculous. I recommend you take a deep breath and stop embarrassing yourself. It makes you look stupid and gives me more verbal ammo to remind you a few months from now how mistaken you are.  ;D
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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2016, 08:07:33 PM »
"IF condition THEN action" doesn't imply anything about the likelihood of condition happening.

"If Turkey invades, all bets are off anyway" merely closes off the obvious question of what Russia might have to consider under those circumstances.  They might choose to bring their forces back to Syria.

But I WILL remember your stupid statement, and WILL remind you of it, IF it happens.  Count on it.
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Re: Putin orders start of Russian military withdrawal from Syria
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2016, 09:17:42 PM »
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/turkey-seeks-allies-support-for-ground-operation-in-syria/article28764615/
Turkey seeks allies’ support for ground operation in Syria
Humeyra Pamuk and Tulay Karadeniz
ANKARA/ISTANBUL — Reuters
Feb. 16, 2016

“Some countries like us, Saudi Arabia and some other Western European countries have said that a ground operation is necessary,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Reuters in an interview.

However, this kind of action could not be left to regional powers alone. “To expect this only from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar is neither right nor realistic. If such an operation is to take place, it has to be carried out jointly, like the (coalition) air strikes,” he said.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the “brutal operation” by Russian and Syrian forces was aimed at forging a YPG corridor along Turkey’s border, something Ankara has long feared would fuel Kurdish separatist ambition on its own soil.

Turkey accused Russia on Monday of an “obvious war crime” after missile attacks in northern Syria killed scores of people, and warned the YPG it would face the “harshest reaction” if it tried to capture a town near the Turkish border.

At least 14 were killed in the northern town of Azaz, the last rebel stronghold before the border with Turkey north of Aleppo.  Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said a Russian missile was responsible and vowed that Turkey would not let Azaz fall into YPG hands.



So Turkey at least seeks US support for a ground operation, which would be an invasion in anybody's language.  And they are threatening "the harshest reaction" if YPG tried to capture Azaz, a town near the Turkish border that is a supply route to Aleppo.  Meanwhile they continue to shell across the border with Syria, and invade Iraqi airspace at will to target Kurdish forces, and to set up a  tank encampment between the Kurds and ISIS forces in Mosul.

But wait, the geopolitical expert AGelbert says "Turkey is NOT going invade ANYBODY", without giving any reasons, so there isn't any point in considering it further.   :iamwithstupid:
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Saker on Syria
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2016, 06:36:21 AM »
http://www.greanvillepost.com/2016/03/16/analysis-of-the-russian-military-pullout-from-syria/

Analysis of the Russian military pullout from Syria

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Russian planes, part of Moscow's small air group in Syria, returning home to bases in the Russian Federation's Southwest.

Russian planes, part of Moscow’s small air group in Syria, returning home to bases in the Russian Federation’s Southwest. Mission (truly) accomplished.


 

THE SAKER CHRONICLES
Deciphering the syntax of disinformation, manufactured wars, and russophobia

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russia-putin-pressConfVladimir Putin has just ordered the withdrawal of the Russian forces in Syria:

“I consider the objectives that have been set for the Defense Ministry to be generally accomplished. That is why I order to start withdrawal of the main part of our military group from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic starting from tomorrow,” Putin said on Monday during a meeting with Shoigu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.  “In a short period of time Russia has created a small but very effective military group in Syria. The effective work of our military forces allowed the peace process to begin,” Putin said, adding that “Russian government troops and [Syria’s] patriotic forces have changed the situation in the fight with international terrorism and have seized the initiative.”


The first question which needs to be asked is whether this is correct: have the Russians achieved their objective or not?  To answer this question, we need to look at what the initial Russian objectives were.  I did that in my article “Week Thirteen of the Russian Intervention in Syria: debunking the lies” where I wrote: (emphasis added)

The key issue here is what criteria to use to measure “success”. And that, in turns, begs the question of what the Russians had hoped to achieve with their intervention in the first place. It turns out that Putin clearly and officially spelled out what the purpose of the Russian intervention was. On October 11th, he declared the following in an interview with Vladimir Soloviev on the TV channel Russia 1:


Our objective is to stabilize the legitimate authority and create conditions for a political compromise…


That’s it. He did not say that Russia would single-handedly change the course of the war, much less so win the war. And while some saw the Russian intervention as a total “game changer” which would mark the end of Daesh, I never believed that. Here is what I wrote exactly one day before Putin make the statement above:

Make no mistake here, the Russian force in Syria is a small one, at least for the time being, and it does not even remotely resemble what the rumors had predicted (…) There is no way that the very limited Russian intervention can really change the tide of the war, at least not by itself. Yes, I do insist that the Russian intervention is a very limited one. 12 SU-24M, 12 SU-25SM, 6 SU-34 and 4 SU-30SM are not a big force, not even backed by helicopters and cruise missiles. Yes, the Russian force has been very effective to relieve the pressure on the northwestern front and to allow for a Syrian Army counter-offensive, but that will not, by itself, end the war.


I was harshly criticized at that time for “minimizing” the scope and potential of the Russian operation, but I chose to ignore these criticisms since I knew that time would prove me right. Today’s declaration finally puts to rest the “most anticipated showdown” and other “game changer” theories.  At least I hope so :-)

Russia-C-CAirforce-V.Bondarev-Виктор-Бондарев

Виктор Бондарев Colonel General Viktor Bondarev, C-in-C of the Russian Aerospace Forces

The Russian intervention is a stunning success, that is indisputable.  Vladimir Putin and the Russian military ought to be particularly praised for having set goals fully commensurate with their real capabilities.  The Russians went in with a small force and they achieved limited goals: the legitimate authority of the Syrian government has been stabilized and the conditions for a political compromise have been created.  That is not an opinion, but the facts on the ground.  Not even the worst Putin-haters can dispute that.  Today’s declaration shows that the Russians are also sticking to their initial exit strategy and are now confident enough to withdraw their forces.  That is nothing short of superb (when is the last time the USA did that?).

Still, this leaves many unanswered questions.

A partition of Syria?

russia-syria-russian-airstrikes-data

Partitioning Syria has been, and still is, the longterm Israeli goal.  Considering the immense power of the Neocons today (nevermind a Hillary Presidency!) the chances that the US will be trying to partition Syria are immense…”

By withdrawing their forces the Russians could be giving the signal to the USA that they are free to have their “little victorious war” against Daesh.  But this could also be a trap.  If you consider the complete failure of the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq, you could wonder why they would suddenly do so much better in Syria, especially considering that besides Daesh they might also come face to face with Iranians and Hezbollah fighters.  Furthermore, unlike the Russian Aerospace forces, the Americans will be committing ground forces and these have a much bigger tendency to get bogged down in long counter-insurgency operations.  If I was a US military advisor I would caution my commanders against a ground operation in Syria even if the Russians are gone.

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BELOW: Some of Russia’s military assets deployed in Syria. It’s really a tiny force by US standards, but, grounded in great intel, extremely effective.
(CLICK ON IMAGES FOR BEST RESOLUTION.)

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The Moskva missile cruiser, patrolling the Mediterranean within striking distance of Syrian battlefields.


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Su-34, advanced tactical fighter/bomber.

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Maintenance by the Russian support crews and pilots at Hmeimim air force base, near Latakia, the main hub for all major air strikes in the region.

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A bombing run by the air force group.

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The Moskva, a missile cruiser, is patrolling the Mediterranean within striking distance of Syrian battlefields.

The Moskva, a missile cruiser, is patrolling the Mediterranean within striking distance of Syrian battlefields.

Russia is using advanced weapons like Pantsir-S1, a combined short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system and represents the latest air defence technology via phased array radars for both target acquisition and tracking.

Russia is using advanced weapons like the Pantsir-S1, a combined short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system which represents the latest air defence technology via phased array radars for both target acquisition and tracking.


 

Still, what if the Americans are successful?  After all, Daesh has taken a bad beating and maybe they can be at least pushed out of Raqqa?  Maybe.  But if that happens then the question will become whether the Americans will try to achieve a de factopartition of Syria (de jure they cannot, since a UNSC Resolution specifically called for a unitary state).

Partitioning Syria has been, and still is, the longterm Israeli goal.  Considering the immense power of the Neocons today (nevermind a Hillary Presidency!) the chances that the US will be trying to partition Syria are immense.

And what if the Americans either fail or don’t even take the bait and stay out of Syria?  Does the Russian withdrawal not risk leaving eastern Syria in Daesh hands?  Would that not be just another de facto partition of the country?  Maybe.  Again, this is a real risk.

Finally, if the Turks and their Saudi allies do invade, that would almost certainly result in a partition of Syria as it is doubtful that the Syrian government could take on Daesh and Turkey and the Saudis at the same time.  Iran, of course, might, but this would result in a major escalation threatening the entire region.

I think that the risk of a partition of Syria is, alas, very real.  However, that being said, I would like to remind everybody that Russia does not have any moral or legal obligation to single-handedly preserve the territorial integrity of Syria.  In purely legal terms, this is an obligation of every single country on earth (because of the UN Charter and the recent UNSC Resolution) and in moral terms, this is first and foremost the obligation of the Syrian people themselves.  I think that it would be praiseworthy for Russia to do everything she can to prevent a partition of Syria,and I am confident that Russia will do her utmost, but that does not mean that this is a Russian obligation.

Future Russian options and operations?

Iwant to draw your attention to the following words by Putin: “I consider the objectives that have been set for the Defense Ministry to be generally accomplished“.  For those unfamiliar with the context (evaluation of a military operation) this might sound like a total approval.  It is not.  In Russian military terminology “generally accomplished” is better than “satisfactory” and roughly equivalent to “good” but not “excellent”.  Putin is not saying that the performance of the Russian forces was less than perfect, but what he is saying is that the goals set out initially have not been fully/perfectly reached.  In other words, this leaves the door open for a “objectives completion” operation.

The second interesting moment in today’s statement is that Putin added that “to control the observation of ceasefire agreements in the region, Moscow will keep its Khmeimim airbase in Latakia province and a base at the port of Tartus“.

To me the combination of these two statements points to the high probability that the Russians are keeping their options open.  First, they will continue to supply the Syrians with hardware, training, intelligence and special operations and, second, they will retain the option of using military power if/when needed.  Not only will Russia retain the capability to strike from the Caspian, the Mediterranean or with her long-range bombers, but she is likely to leave enough pre-positioned supplies and personnel in Tartus, Khmeimim and elsewhere in Syria to be ready to intervene at very short notice (say in case of a Turkish attack towards Latakia, for example).

Finally, I am confident that when speaking to the (newly created) “moderate opposition” the Russians will carefully but regularly drop hints about the need to achieve a negotiated agreement with the Syrian government “lest the war resume again with a new intensity” (or something along these lines).  Keep in mind that, unlike their US counterparts, the Russian diplomats and intelligence officers truly understand their counterparts, not only because they are fluent in the local languages and understand the culture, but because the single important quality expected from a Russian diplomat or intelligence officer is the ability to understand the real, profound, motives of the person you are speaking to, to put yourself into his/her shoes.  I have had enough personal experience with Russian diplomats and intelligence officers to be sure that they are already patiently talking to all the key figures in positions of power inside the so-called “moderate resistance” to maximize the stake each one of them might have in a negotiated solution.  Oh sure, there will be beautiful speeches in the plenary meetings and conferences, but they key effort will be made in informal conversations happening in restaurants, back-rooms and various hotels where the Russians will make darn sure they convey to their interlocutors that he/she have a very personal interest in a successful negotiation.  There will be a lot of bargaining involving promises and hinted threats and while some will, of course, resist such “gentle pressures”, the cumulative effect of such informal meetings will be crucial.  And if that means preparing 500 different approaches and negotiation techniques for 500 different contacts, the Russians will put the manpower, time and effort to make it happen.


SIDEBAR 2

Washington has gone all out to slander Russia’s air campaign in Syria, but this time the Big Lie may backfire

EDITOR'S COMMENT ON WASHINGTON'S DISINFORMATION AGAINST RUSSIA—CLICK HERE
The campaign to defame the Russian intervention—painting it as a ruthless and criminal attack not just on ISIS, but on the non-existent “moderate Jihadis”, and naturally the usual innocent civilians caught in the crossfire (not forgetting the demolition of priceless archaeological treasures that dot the Middle East), has reached new heights of hypocrisy, even by Washington’s sociopathic standards.

All the photographs included in this section have one thing in common: they come from suspect sources (at best, i.e., the “White Hats”) and are all intended to besmirch the name of Russia and her allies.ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH Men rescue a boy from under the rubble after what activists said was explosive barrels dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad in Al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo April 6, 2014. REUTERS/Hosam Katan (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3K52P

anti-Russia-palmyra-syria-isis

Although Palmyra has been in ISIS hands for almost two years, and these lunatics have systematically destroyed much of the treasures in the city, the photo below (without direct attribution) is being circulated to insinuate it was the Russians who did most of the damage.

anti-Russia-Debris-of-a-collapsed-building-after-a-Russian-air-strike-in-Damascus-489169 anti-russia-in syria-%22activists claim Russia bombing civvies%22

This image taken in Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria. Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Syria Civil Defence via AP)

The propaganda is professional grade. The pictures always assume an air of impartial authoritativeness. The official caption for this one is typical: “This image taken on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of the Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria. Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Syria Civil Defence via AP).” The caption does not warn the readers that the White Helmets is a propaganda shill created with funding from George Soros and the usual hidden sources. Plus the organization’s name, the Syrian Civil Defence, makes it sound as something like the Red Cross or a respectable state or international agency. It is neither.

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The classical heart-tugger: the children victims. They certainly exist, by the tens of thousands, and the pictures are eloquent, but the fate of these children was sealed by Washington’s pathological criminality and not the Russian intervention to stop the insanity.


 

BELOW: Pieces of anti-Russian/pro-West cartoons and “activist art” like this abound in the Western mainstream and social media. Their origin is murky. This poster directly supports the US State Department’s line —parroted by the media—that the Russians, for unfathomable and perverse reasons, are bent NOT on bombing ISIS, but supposedly “moderate” fighters and the usual gaggle of clueless innocents.

anti-russia-syria-campaignQ.E.D.


Connoisseurs of US-style propaganda will easily recognize the trademark memes by which Washington casts its nefarious spell on unsuspecting minds: the chorus of many voices giving credibility by sheer weight of numbers and repetition to outrageous accusations; the shots of demolished buildings, streets and entire towns making the region look like a pile of bloodstained rubble (which it has become in far too many places); and, the piece de resistance in any effort of this kind—the heart-tugging, inevitable pictures of children and women killed by the cruel bombs.

These are real tragedies (regardless of where the images were photographed or staged), and decent people are correct in being moved. Yet they are being manipulated, victims of a colossal imposture, a normative imposture without which the American plutocratic order would quickly begin to unravel. That’s why in this and many other cases, the gross indecency rests with Washington’s disinformers and presstitutes and their squalid puppet masters, the folks who make the wounds, the puny minority, the trillionaires—what is it really, 0.00001%?—who have no qualms using the suffering so wantonly created to advance their own insatiable self-serving agenda. Out of this pathetic spectacle, one thing emerges with blinding clarity: that never is the Big Lie more nauseating than when it wraps itself in the mantle of sanctimonious hypocrisy, and that is indeed the signature of US propaganda.


When the American disinformation machine is in high gear, working hard to deploy its enormous “soft power” across the globe, the hypocrisy drenches the consumer from every angle, and yet even a minimum of focused attention can rip it apart, revealing the truth. The key is always to look for the missing context.


In Syria, as is the case with all international war crimes, the most serious offense is what the Nuremberg tribunal found to merit the death penalty: the cold-blooded plotting and prosecution of manufactured wars, the so-called “wars of choice” concocted by America’s leaders, of which the most disgusting example in recent memory is the assault on Iraq, waged by the Bush-Cheney regime, and since continued and expanded by the Obama team, as infected by the neocon imperialist vermin as the previous administrations. So the critical, contextual question passed over  or muddled up by all these putative journalists is this: Who, what forces started the Syrian civil war and why? Who benefits? Who sowed the wind for years until a fierce whirlwind broke out that now threatens to engulf much of humanity? The answer is as clear as it is irrefutable: The US plutocracy and their accomplices in the Gulf, Turkey, and the EU. That’s who. And although the truth and the supporting evidence is so thick as to constitute by now a glut, until the counter-propagnda narrative gets the attention of at least 20% of the American people, the lies will go on and so will the industrial-scale murder project that passes for foreign policy in our thoroughly benighted America.—P. Greanville


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Evaluation

It is way too early right now to give a categorical evaluation of the timing and consequences of the Russian withdrawal from Syria.  Let us also keep in mind that there is a lot we don’t know.  What we do know is that Sergei Lavrov has had an absolutely crazy schedule over the past month or so and that Russian diplomats have been holding intense negotiations with all the regional powers.  I am confident that the Russians planned their withdrawal at least as carefully as they planned their intervention and that they have left as many open options as possible.  By the way, the big advantage of a unilateral decision is that, unlike one taken as part of an agreement with other parties, it can be unilaterally rescinded too.  It took the Russians just days to launch their initial operation even though they had to execute it all in difficult conditions and under the cloak of secrecy.  How long would it take them to move back into Syria if needed?

When all is said and done, I simply trust Vladimir Putin.  No, no just because I am a Putin fanboy (which, of course, I am!), but because of his record of being right and taking difficult, even risky, decisions which eventually yielded Russia yet another unforeseen success.

Like any good chess player, Putin knows that one of the key factors in any war is timing and so far Putin has timed every move superbly.  Yes, there were times in the past when I got really worried about what looked to me as either too much waiting or as dangerous risk-taking, but every single time my fears ended up being unfounded.  And yes, I can easily muster up a long list of potentially catastrophic scenarios for Syria, but I think that this would only make sense if Putin had, like Obama, a long and impressive list of failures, disasters, miscalculations, [betrayals], and embarrassing defeats on his record.  But he does not.  In fact, what I see is an amazing list of successes achieved against very difficult odds.  And they key to Putin’s success might well be that he is a hardcore realist.

Russia is still weak.  Yes, she is stronger than in the past and she is rising up very fast, but she still is weak, especially in comparison to the still immense AngloZionist Empire whose resources simply dwarf Russia’s in most categories.  However, this comparative weakness also forces the Kremlin to be very careful.  When an empire is rich and powerful being arrogant and over-estimating your own capabilities is not nearly as bad as when a much weaker country does it.  Just look at the USA under Obama: they went from one humiliating and costly defeat to another – yet they are still here and still powerful, almost as powerful as they used to be 10 years ago.  While in the long run the kind of hubris and gross incompetence we nowadays observe in US decision-makers will result in the inevitable collapse of the Empire, in the medium to short term there is no truly painful price to pay for failure.  Just one example: just think of the US military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.  They are absolute and total failures, abject disasters of incalculable magnitude.  They will go down in history as amongst the worst foreign policy failures ever.  And yet, walking around in downtown New York or San Fransisco you would never think that you are visiting a country which just lost two major and long wars.

Russia does not have such a “luxury of power”, she has to make every bit count and she has to plan each move with utmost precision.  Just like a tightrope walker with no safety harness, Putin knows that a single misstep can have catastrophic consequences.

To withdraw the bulk of the Russian military task force in Syria right now is a gutsy and potentially risky move for sure, but I am confident that it is also the right one.  But only time will tell if my confidence is warranted or not.

Save As Many As You Can

 

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