Where will warming relations between Russia and Turkey lead?  How does Syria fit into this picture?  Spunik interviewed The Saker for his geopolitical perspective.  Here’s the full text of the interview:

When I think of the recent developments in the USA (Dallas shooting, Orlando shooting) and Europe (Nice, murdered priest, Germany shooting) I get this unpleasant feeling that something is not quite right. For one thing, the perpetrators are absolutely ridiculous: pseudo-Muslims who turn out to be drinking homosexuals, ex-patients of mental institutions – the kind of people I call “overnight Muslims”: they all make darn sure to say Allahu Akbar a number of times, but other than that, they have no sign of Islam at all. In fact, far from being trained Daesh fighters, they are all losers with weak personalities. Exactly the kind of people the special services (and religious sects) like to prey on because they are weak and easy to manipulate. Oh yes, I know, the good folk a Daesh do end up claiming that the perpetrator is one of them, but that really proves nothing (except maybe that Daesh is desperate to increase its notoriety).

syria russia obama putinTND Guest Contributor:  The Saker

A number of events have happened recently which point to the possibility that something might be brewing in the Syrian conflict.

First and foremost, there was Erdogan’s apology to Russia which was really much more than just an apology. The Turks have really extended a hand to Russia and their offer officially includes not only a return of Russian tourists or the sale of Turkish veggies in Russia, but a strong collaboration between the two countries against terrorism and even join military operations. The Turks have even indicated that they would be willing to offer Russia the use of the Incirlik airbase for Russian aircraft involved in the air operations against Daesh & Co. Then the Turks denied it, which is fair enough and which is how they, apparently, do business. Either way, the Russians politely declined (more about that later)

Second, just two weeks after another “leak” which claimed that 51 US diplomats wanted Obama to authorize airstrikes against government forces in Syria, the WaPo “leaked” the news that the USA was offering the Russians a new “military partnership” in Syria only to vehemently denounce this plan a couple of days later. “Moon of Alabama” immediately and correctly denounced this so-called offer as “nonsense”.

Third, while the Syrian move to advance towards Raqqa has clearly run into some major difficulties, there are sign indicating that the city of Aleppo might soon be fully encircled by the government forces.

Fourth, the Russian military has confirmed that heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov might be soon deployed to the Mediterranean

Fifth, Defense Minister Shoigu has announced that he was promoting the current commander of the Russian task force in Syria, Colonel-General Alexander Dvornikov, to the post of the commander of the Southern Military District.

So what does all that mean?

Concerning the first point, it is remarkable that while Erdogan is personally extremely disliked in Russia, all the Russian military and foreign policy experts agree that Russia should, and will, resume cooperation with Turkey. There is an acute awareness in Russia that, like it or not, Turkey is a key player in the region and that Russia must therefore engage with any Turkish leader. Furthermore, the Russians feel that they are in a very advantageous position of strength and that now is the time to press Turkey for some real changes. Topping the Russian agenda is the objective to get Turkey to *really* close the Turkish-Syrian border and to stop financing Daesh by shutting down the illegal trade in oil. Second, several Turkey specialists have expressed the opinion that the bombing in Istanbul was really a Daesh warning to Erdogan and that this indicates that Erdogan took a real risk by turning to Russia and that Russia must now give him something tangible to support him in his terrible position. Again, this is not going to be a love-fest between the Kremlin and Ankara, but a case of pure Realpolitikwhere the Russian feel that they must set aside their feeling of distrust, and even disgust, and very carefully play the “Erdogan” card. At the very least, the Russians will demand an end to Turkish support for terrorism in the Caucasus and Central Asia and some tangible signs of real, meaningful Turkish collaboration against Daesh. In exchange, the Russians have indicated that they are willing to resume collaboration with Turkey on energy (gas, oil, nuclear plants) and economic (building, transportation) issues.

Russia has no need and no interest in the Incirlik air base. Not only is it basically run by the USA, but Russian aircraft have the reach to bomb anywhere in Syria if needed.

What is currently happening in the USA can only be described as utter chaos. When when a large number of diplomats admit that their own craft, diplomacy, is useless and when the only thing they can recommend is the fully illegal and, I would add, irresponsible use of force against a sovereign country (Syria) which is allied with, and hosting the forces of, a nuclear superpower (Russia), you know that you are dealing with a clueless and incompetent gang of amateurs. This also is the sign that the United States have lost the control (or even the illusion of control) and that the inevitable infighting has begun. That is very bad news because it makes the USA even more unpredictable and prone to “quickfix solutions” (which in the case of the USA is always more military violence and escalation). While I agree with Moon of Alabama that the US offer is a no-starter, I also see it as a possible diversionary maneuver of those in the USA who want to prevent the Neocon crazies from triggering a direct confrontation with Russia. If that is the case, some vague promise of collaboration from Russia would be good enough to at least temporarily shut up the crazies and hope that Trump gets elected.

All we know so far is that Obama and Putin have spoken on the phone and that, according to a Russian statement,

During the discussion of the situation in Syria, Vladimir Putin urged Barack Obama to facilitate as quickly as possible the separation of moderate Syrian opposition forces from the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra and other extremists that are not covered by the ceasefire regime. Both sides reaffirmed their readiness to step up coordination of American and Russian military actions in Syria, and emphasised the importance of resuming inter-Syrian negotiations under the aegis of the UN to achieve a a political settlement.

Whether any real “coordination” ever truly materializes remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the Syrians clearly need more help and while they are apparently making progress around Aleppo elsewhere they are running into problems. Rumor has it that Iranian forces have also taken a pounding recently. Some Russian experts are saying that the reason for this is that Hezbollah has made the determination that liberating Aleppo is the single most important goal and that crack Hezbollah fighters have been withdrawn from other sectors and concentrated around Aleppo. Whatever may be the case, in the Raqqa province Daesh still seems to be in control. This might change if the US somehow manages to convince the Kurds to make a push for Raqqa, especially if the Turks cut off the northern supplies routes to Daesh and the Russians help the Syrians. This could happen if only because anything could happen, I suppose, but I will believe it when I see it. It will be awfully hard to get the Kurds, who are basically fighting a civil war in Turkey, to agree to divert resources to the south and east to fight Daesh. The obvious solution is to get US boots on the ground, but that is politically very difficult for Obama who has promised numerous times not to do so. Of course, the *real* solution would be to make a deal with Russia and Assad and then jointly crush Daesh, but that would extremely humiliating for the United States. There are probably constituencies lobbying for all these options right now and I won’t even try to guess who will prevail.

While it is true that the Russian have confirmed that the Admiral Kuznetsov will be sent to the Mediterranean, silly rumors about “countering NATO” are, yet again, being circulated. The truth is that the Kuznetsov, while a formidable ship indeed, is also a Cold War “fossil” which was originally designed to extend the range of Soviet air defenses protecting the submarine bastions of the Soviet Navy. By the way, the correct classification for this kind of ship is not “aircraft carrier” but “heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser” (тяжёлый авианесущий крейсер) which means that unlike, say, USN aircraft carriers, the primary armament of the Kuznetsov are her powerful anti-ship missiles designed to sink US carriers.

On the Admiral Kuznetsov powerful missiles are hidden under the runway

On the Admiral Kuznetsov powerful missiles are hidden under the runway

Her complement of aircraft, fixed and rotary-wing, are a secondary capability: to extend the sensor range and to protect. This will probably change in the future, but in its current configuration the Admiral Kuznetsov is definitely a weird ship: her anti-ship missiles are useless against Daesh. Her rotary and fixed wing aircraft have been modernized and are very capable, but they are also extremely limited in numbers: 15 SU-33 and MiG-29K/KUB and more than ten Ка-52К, Ка-27 and Ка-31. So, at most, there will be, maybe, 10 navalized (and modernized) MiG-29K/KUB which would be a real threat to Daesh, plus a few Ka-52K. The SU-33 is a pure air-to-air interceptor, though capable of “dumb” (unguided) bombing while the Ka-27 and Ka-31 are SAR and EW helos respectively. Bottom line – in terms of fighting Daesh, the Admiral Kuznetsov brings very little. What she does bring, however, a world-class air defense capabilities and advanced command, control and communication. In other words, the Kuznetsov is an ideal task force command post. That, and the SU-33/MiG-29K combo, can very substantially increase the Russian capability of having advanced air-to-air aircraft on station for combat air patrols. But, remember, Daesh has no air force, so make your own conclusions here 🙂

A Sukhoi-33 interceptor prepares for take-off

A Sukhoi-33 interceptor prepares for take-off

Here I would tie-in the promotion of Colonel-General Dvornikov, a man who knows the Syrian operational environment extremely well, to the Southern Military District, the district which, should things get ugly in Syria, would be the district supporting all Russian efforts in Syria and upon whom the Russian task force in Syria would be vitally dependent on. What better choice could there be for the Russian task force in Syria than to have its former Commander now in charge of support from the Motherland?

I have no way of knowing what the Russians and the Turks or the Russians and the Americans are discussing behind closed doors, so I won’t even pretend. But what I see is Russia, yet again, taking steps which would be expected of her if the Kremlin had come to the conclusion that the situation in Syria is likely to heat up again. Oh sure, it could be that Dvornikov got promoted to a position of responsibility just because a man like him was needed in the very important Southern Military District and that the Kuznetsov is just being sent to the Syrian cost for some, shall we say, “realistic trials”. But I have the feeling that the Russians are maximizing their options while the Americans are clearly struggling to even define what their policy now really is.

And just to make things more complicated, there are some semi-official differences between the Russians and the Iranians who wanted a much larger Russian intervention and who don’t believe in the peace process initiated by Putin. Finally, it is not at all clear from the Russian statements so far that they are willing to continue their intervention until the last Daesh fighter is killed, which is the position of Assad. So while Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrian have found a great deal of common interests, Russia is not in the position to act like a mini-USA and just give orders to everybody else. There are real differences in opinion between these loosely allied forces and each one retains a very large freedom of maneuver.

The political logic of a US pre-election period would suggest that US-generated conflicts such as the ones in the Ukraine and the one in Syria should remain limited to minor moves until the new administration gets elected and takes over. This might still happen in Syria, but a lot of signs are beginning to point to a possible acceleration of events on the ground.

This work was originally published at the Unz Review and reprinted on TheSaker.is and is licensed by Saker Analytics, LLC under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 International license (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Nuclear-WWIII-275x200_cWe, the undersigned, are Russians living and working in the USA. We have been watching with increasing anxiety as the current US and NATO policies have set us on an extremely dangerous collision course with the Russian Federation, as well as with China. Many respected, patriotic Americans, such as Paul Craig Roberts, Stephen Cohen, Philip Giraldi, Ray McGovern and many others have been issuing warnings of a looming a Third World War. But their voices have been all but lost among the din of a mass media that is full of deceptive and inaccurate stories that characterize the Russian economy as being in shambles and the Russian military as weak—all based on no evidence. But we—knowing both Russian history and the current state of Russian society and the Russian military, cannot swallow these lies. We now feel that it is our duty, as Russians living in the US, to warn the American people that they are being lied to, and to tell them the truth. And the truth is simply this:

If there is going to be a war with Russia, then the United States
will most certainly be destroyed, and most of us will end up dead
.

Let us take a step back and put what is happening in a historical context. Russia has suffered a great deal at the hands of foreign invaders, losing 22 million people in World War II. Most of the dead were civilians, because the country was invaded, and the Russians have vowed to never let such a disaster happen again. Each time Russia had been invaded, she emerged victorious. In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia; in 1814 Russian cavalry rode into Paris. On June 22, 1941, Hitler’s Luftwaffe bombed Kiev; On May 8, 1945, Soviet troops rolled into Berlin.

But times have changed since then. If Hitler were to attack Russia today, he would be dead 20 to 30 minutes later, his bunker reduced to glowing rubble by a strike from a Kalibr supersonic cruise missile launched from a small Russian navy ship somewhere in the Baltic Sea. The operational abilities of the new Russian military have been most persuasively demonstrated during the recent action against ISIS, Al Nusra and other foreign-funded terrorist groups operating in Syria. A long time ago Russia had to respond to provocations by fighting land battles on her own territory, then launching a counter-invasion; but this is no longer necessary. Russia’s new weapons make retaliation instant, undetectable, unstoppable and perfectly lethal.

Thus, if tomorrow a war were to break out between the US and Russia, it is guaranteed that the US would be obliterated. At a minimum, there would no longer be an electric grid, no Internet, no oil and gas pipelines, no interstate highway system, no air transportation or GPS-based navigation. Financial centers would lie in ruins. Government at every level would cease to function. US armed forces, stationed all around the globe, would no longer be resupplied. At a maximum, the entire landmass of the US would be covered by a layer of radioactive ash. We tell you this not to be alarmist, but because, based on everything we know, we are ourselves alarmed. If attacked, Russia will not back down; she will retaliate, and she will utterly annihilate the United States.

The US leadership has done everything it could to push the situation to the brink of disaster. First, its anti-Russian policies have convinced the Russian leadership that making concessions or negotiating with the West is futile. It has become apparent that the West will always support any individual, movement or government that is anti-Russian, be it tax-cheating Russian oligarchs, convicted Ukrainian war criminals, Saudi-supported Wahhabi terrorists in Chechnya or cathedral-desecrating punks in Moscow. Now that NATO, in violation of its previous promises, has expanded right up to the Russian border, with US forces deployed in the Baltic states, within artillery range of St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, the Russians have nowhere left to retreat. They will not attack; nor will they back down or surrender. The Russian leadership enjoys over 80% of popular support; the remaining 20% seems to feel that it is being too soft in opposing Western encroachment. But Russia will retaliate, and a provocation or a simple mistake could trigger a sequence of events that will end with millions of Americans dead and the US in ruins.

Unlike many Americans, who see war as an exciting, victorious foreign adventure, the Russians hate and fear war. But they are also ready for it, and they have been preparing for war for several years now. Their preparations have been most effective. Unlike the US, which squanders untold billions on dubious overpriced arms programs such as the F-35 joint task fighter, the Russians are extremely stingy with their defense rubles, getting as much as 10 times the bang for the buck compared to the bloated US defense industry. While it is true that the Russian economy has suffered from low energy prices, it is far from being in shambles, and a return to growth is expected as early as next year. Senator John McCain once called Russia “A gas station masquerading as a country.” Well, he lied. Yes, Russia is the world’s largest oil producer and second-largest oil exporter, but it is also world’s largest exporter of grain and nuclear power technology. It is as advanced and sophisticated a society as the United States. Russia’s armed forces, both conventional and nuclear, are now ready to fight, and they are more than a match for the US and NATO, especially if a war erupts anywhere near the Russian border.

But such a fight would be suicidal for all sides. We strongly believe that a conventional war in Europe runs a strong chance of turning nuclear very rapidly, and that any US/NATO nuclear strike on Russian forces or territory will automatically trigger a retaliatory Russian nuclear strike on the continental US. Contrary to irresponsible statements made by some American propagandists, American antiballistic missile systems are incapable of shielding the American people from a Russian nuclear strike. Russia has the means to strike at targets in the USA with long-range nuclear as well as conventional weapons.

The sole reason why the USA and Russia have found themselves on a collision course, instead of defusing tensions and cooperating on a wide range of international problems, is the stubborn refusal by the US leadership to accept Russia as an equal partner: Washington is dead set on being the “world leader” and the “indispensable nation,” even as its influence steadily dwindles in the wake of a string of foreign policy and military disasters such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and the Ukraine. Continued American global leadership is something that neither Russia, nor China, nor most of the other countries are willing to accept. This gradual but apparent loss of power and influence has caused the US leadership to become hysterical; and it is but a small step from hysterical to suicidal. America’s political leaders need to be placed under suicide watch.

First and foremost, we are appealing to the commanders of the US Armed Forces to follow the example of Admiral William Fallon, who, when asked about a war with Iran, reportedly replied “not on my watch. We know that you are not suicidal, and that you do not wish to die for the sake of out-of-touch imperial hubris. If possible, please tell your staff, colleagues and, especially, your civilian superiors that a war with Russia will not happen on your watch. At the very least, take that pledge to yourself, and, should the day ever come when the suicidal order is issued, simply refuse to execute it on the grounds that it is criminal. Remember that according to the Nuremberg TribunalTo initiate a war of aggression… is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Since Nuremberg, “I was just following orders” is no longer a valid defense; please don’t be war criminals.

We also appeal to the American people to take peaceful but forceful action to oppose any politician or party that engages in irresponsible, provocative Russia-baiting, and that condones and supports a policy of needless confrontation with a nuclear superpower that is capable of destroying the US in about an hour. Speak up, break through the barrier of mass media propaganda, and make your fellow Americans aware of the immense danger of a confrontation between Russia and the US.

There is no objective reason why US and Russia should consider each other as adversaries. The current confrontation is entirely the result of the extremist views of the neoconservative movement, whose members have infiltrated the US Federal government, and who consider any country that refuses to obey their dictates as an enemy to be crushed. Thanks to their tireless efforts, over a million innocent people have already died in the former Yugoslavia, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, the Ukraine, Yemen, Somalia and in many other countries—all because of their maniacal insistence that the USA must be a world empire, not a just a regular, normal country, and that every national leader must either bow down before it, or be overthrown. In Russia, the irresistible force that is the neocon movement has finally encountered the immovable object. They must be forced to back down before they destroy us all.

We are absolutely and categorically certain that Russia will never attack the US, nor any EU member state, that Russia is not at all interested in recreating the USSR, and that there is no “Russian threat” or “Russian aggression.” Much of Russia’s recent economic success has a lot to do with the shedding of former Soviet dependencies, allowing her to pursue a “Russia first” policy. But we are just as certain that if Russia is attacked, or even threatened with attack, she will not back down, and that the Russian leadership will not “blink.” With great sadness and a heavy heart they will do their sworn duty and unleash a nuclear barrage from which the United States will never recover. Even if the entire Russian leadership is killed in a first strike, the so-called “Dead Hand” (the “Perimetr” system) will automatically launch enough nukes to wipe the USA off the political map. We feel that it is our duty to do all we can to prevent such a catastrophe.

Eugenia V Gurevich, PhD
http://thesaker.ru/
Dmitri Orlov
http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/
The Saker (A. Raevsky)
http://thesaker.is/

This work was published at TheSaker.is and is licensed by Saker Analytics, LLC under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 International license (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Уркодебилы-622x250_cTND Guest Contributor:  The Saker

Originally published at the Unz Review

There is less talk about the rump-Ukraine in the news these days, especially in the western corporate media, and there is a good reason for that: that short-lived Urkonazi “Banderastan” is falling apart. This is hardly surprising since the entire concept was never viable in the first place. Let’s remember how it all began.

It is crucial to remember that there was no spontaneous revolution or insurrection in the Ukraine, the Euromaidan had nothing to do with Europe and everything to do with the USA. Oh sure, the Ukrainian people were told that it was about “joining the EU”, but that was never even a remote possibility. The sole purpose of the Euromaindan was to prevent the rebirth of a “new Soviet Union”. No matter how ludicrous the notion of a USSR v2 might be, this is what was in the always paranoid, self-deluded and ignorant minds of the US “deep state”. Two of the main spokesmen for that US deep state were very clear about this:

First, we have the crucial statement made by Hillary Clinton in early December of 2012:

There is a move to re-Sovietise the region,” (…) “It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called a customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that,” (…) “But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.”

Now, it is absolutely irrelevant to argue about whether Hillary was right or wrong in her interpretation. what matters is that she, and her political masters, really believe is that Putin wants to re-create the Soviet Union.

Next, we need to recall another crucial statement, made this time by Zbigniew Brzezinski who wrote:

Without Ukraine Russia ceases to be empire, while with Ukraine – bought off first and subdued afterwards, it automatically turns into empire…According to him, the new world order under the hegemony of the United States is created against Russia and on the fragments of Russia. Ukraine is the Western outpost to prevent the recreation of the Soviet Union.

Again, it does not matter at all whether evil Zbig is right or wrong. What matters is that this was the real cause of the Euromaidan: the Americans wanted to create an anti-Russia right across the Russian border. This anti-Russia would have been an extremely dangerous and destabilizing neighbor for Russia. And if Russia did intervene in the Ukraine, that would have revived a simmering Cold War to new levels, justifying the “protection” of Europe by the USA for the next 50 or 60 years at least. Uncle Sam was in a win-win situation. It was a great plan, except that it never worked, of course.

First, the Russian twice stunned the Americans: first, by using military force where they were never expected to do so (Crimea) and, second, by not using military force were they were expected to do so (the Donbass). This was really bad news for the AngloZionist Empire: Crimea, the undisputed “crown jewel” of the “independent Ukraine” was reunited with Russia without a single fatality, while the Donbass (for sure the richest and most advanced part of the “independent Ukraine”) seceded without any overt Russian military intervention at all. That was not what the US strategists had hoped for.

In total disarray, they ordered the Ukronazi military and death-squads to re-take the secessionist region, and the junta almost did. Only a desperate last ditch resistance by the Novorussians followed by the opening of a vast Voentrog (lit. “military trade”, name of a well known military surplus store, “voentorg” now refers to the covert delivery of military equipment to Novorussia) and a well-organized “northern wind” (the sending of volunteer military specialists) saved the day. After that critical moment, the Ukronazis never had another major success and their operational offensives in Saur Mogila and Debaltsevo ended in total disaster.

Then the junta in Kiev tried everything, from bombings, to random artillery attacks, to the use of phosphorus gas, to terrorist attacks, to even the use of ballistic missiles and, of course, the MH-17 false flag. But nothing worked. The Novorussians had dug in and their tactical skills and morale was vastly superior to the junta’s forces. Worse, the Novorussians succeeded, albeit with great efforts, to eventually turn their volunteer militias into a single conventional military force. Of course, compared to the Russian military, the Donetsk and Lugansk forces are still a eons away in terms of capabilities, but compared to the so-called “Ukrainian army” or the Nazi death-squads – they are vastly more capable and sophisticated.

Second, the level of mis-management, corruption and plain stupidity shown by the new ruling “elite” (so to speak) was truly of an African quality. For one thing, these nationalist imbeciles committed economicseppuku by severing almost all ties with Russia. While these ties were important to Russia, they were absolutely vital to the Ukraine. Furthernmore, Poroshenko and the coterie of pseudo-nationalist oligarchs around him proceeded to embezzle everything worth embezzling and simply stole all the money which the West provided has “help” to support the New Ukraine.

Third, despite the fact that a huge strategic PSYOP had been organized in the western corporate media to present the Ukronazis as well-intentioned patriots wanting to join Europe and live free, the Ukies were so stupid and overt in their words, actions and symbols that it became more and more clear to the people in the West that far from dealing with some “liberty loving democrats” the West was in bed withbone fide Nazis. Not only that, but the West was now paying to be in bed with them. Not that the European corporate leaders ever were so squeamish as to not be willing to be in bed with psychopathic murderers, but in the Ukrainian case this meant the lose of a much more important market: Russia.

So now, in May 2016, it becomes more and more obvious, if not undeniable, that the entire “Ukrainian project” is a total mess, potentially far worse and far more dangerous than the mess in Libya or Iraq. At least Libya has a tiny population while and Iraq can probably be brought back into some semblance of normalcy by the Iranians, assuming the West stops using Daesh to destabilize the entire region. But the Ukraine has roughly 40 million people left (officially 45M, but between Crimea, the Donbass and those who fled, it is probably well under 40M by now), smack in the center of Europe (at least if, unlike me, you consider “eastern Europe” as part of Europe). And it is falling apart. Fast.

The coup in the Ukraine has been described as a coup of “millionaires against billionaires” and there much truth to this. Oligarchs are clearly one of the key forces in the New Ukraine. The other major forces are the neo-Nazis, mostly from the western Ukraine. The third, and often forgotten, force are the various criminal mobs (ethnic and regional) who, while often closely linked to the oligarchs and Nazis, is still distinct from these two, mainly by different motives and a different mindset. The key thing about all of them is this: they are now all armed to the teeth. That’s right – the oligarchs have their own “security services”, the Nazis have their death-squads while the mobsters all have their gangs of armed thugs. As for the Ukie cops, they are staying out of the way, while the much feared SBU (Ukie KGB), which has never caught a single western spy in its entire history, is so busy kidnapping, torturing and generally terrorizing any anti-Nazi Ukrainian left that they have no time, or inclination, for law and order operations. Even anything, the SBU is basically “for hire” by the oligarchs, Nazis and even mobsters.

As for the Ukrainian armed forces, they are mostly composed of men from the eastern Ukraine and they lack the kind of ideological drive which the death-squads, which are composed of mostly west-Ukrainians, have. They do, however, have more firepower than the death-squads, and that partially explains why neither the regulars nor the death-squads have performed well in combat. What is certain is that neither the regular armed forces nor the death-squads have the means, or the will, to restore law and order, nevermind do something about the economic disaster.

In other words – there is no rule of law left at all and if the country has not entirely gone down the “Somali road” yet, it is mainly by inertia. But as the consequences of the economic collapse become evident, violence will explode.

Now that western aid has more or less dried up, and the country has been robbed blind, the central government has less and less relevance to the regions, each of which is now run by local oligarchs/warlords. This is most likely the first step in the inevitable process of breakup of what is left of the Ukraine with Lvov and Ivano-Frankovsk joining forces to create a mini-Banderastan in the west of the country. Odessa and the southern Ukraine will, sooner or later, want to break free from the control of Kiev and either be independent or join Russia in one way or another, while the central Ukraine will be left with nothing except roaming gangs of thugs à la Mad Max.

As for the Donbass (and Crimea, of course), they are gone forever – and Kiev knows that. The best proof of that awareness in Kiev can be found in the undeniable fact that the Junta has made absolutely zero efforts to try to lure back or somehow attract the people in the breakaway regions of the Ukraine to return to Kiev’s fold. Instead of paying their pensions (which they legally were obliged to), the stole all the pension money of the people in the Donbass. As for Crimea, Kiev imposed a water blockade, a transportation blockade, a food blockade and an electricity blockade. And while Russia provided everything need for the people of Crimea, that kind of petty and outright nasty harassment will hardly endure the Nazi Junta in Kiev to the people of Crimea. The fact is that Kiev has long given up on the notion of convincing the “vatniki” whom they have always hated and considered as subhuman semi-Asian mongrels anyway.

The new chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, and the number 2 person in the country, Andrei Parubii, a overt Nazi with, according to rumors, mental issues, is now seriously discussing establishing a visa regime with Russia – thereby depriving 4-5 million Ukrainians in Russia from working in Russia and sending money back home. Sounds crazy? It is. But these are the same folks who closed the Ukrainian airspace to Russian airlines which, predictably, resulted in Russia closer her airspace to the Ukrainians. One look at a map will tell you who lost more.

Of course, as the economy comes to a standstill, the ideological struggles will gradually be replaced by even more primitive forms of competition for good and services and, in certain regions, even for food and shelter. When this process will begin the rump-Ukraine will undergo a process of transformation from fascism to ochlocracy at which point the rump-Ukraine will probably break up and a new wave of refugees will flood the EU.

The most amazing thing in all this is that the Ukrainian nationalists really did it all to themselves. If between 1991 and 2014 the Ukraine was run in a corrupt and incompetent manner, after 2014 the new leaders in Kiev embarked on a course which can only be described as suicidal. Seeing the chaos in the Ukraine today, it is hard to believe that in 1991 the Ukraine was a highly developed country, with an immense potential and which seemed poised to immensely benefit from being a natural bridge between the East and the West. The current apocalypse is entirely man-made, driven by hate-filled ideological delusion, fantastic levels of corruption and an apparently total lack of common sense.

The Ukrainians were promised a future looking like Germany and, instead, they got Somalia. There is going to be hell to pay for all those who were involved in this gigantic deception.

This work was published at TheSaker.is and is licensed by Saker Analytics, LLC under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 International license (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0).

Selection_168-300x118TND Guest Contributor:  The Saker

Last month I have had, once again, the real pleasure to have a one hour long conversation with Catherine Austin Fitts, the president of Solari, Inc., the publisher of The Solari Report and managing member of Solari Investment Advisory Services.  Normally, the Catherine’s interviews are for subscribers only, but she has kindly agreed to make it available for free to our community.

Here is the main page of the interview: https://solari.com/blog/the-saker-a-uni-polar-vs-multi-polar-world/

You can listen to the interview here: https://solari.com/audio/sr20160407_InterviewHQ.mp3

You can get the transcript in PDF format here:https://solari.com/00archive/web/solarireports/2016/sr20160407_1.pdf

I highly recommend that you check out the rest of the Solari Reports and the Solari Books.

Enjoy!

The Saker

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This work was published at TheSaker.is and is licensed by Saker Analytics, LLC under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 International license (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0).

TND Editor’s Note:  We publish what Western media refuses to publish because we believe our readers deserve the ability to easily review the speeches of world leaders, be that a speech from Obama, or Putin — whomever.  When an American president speaks before an audience at West Point, for example, the transcript and video is readily available, worldwide.  An analogous speech from Putin?  Good luck finding a single mainstream Western source that will treat its audience with respect and let its audience make up its own mind as to what a world leader is saying.

The following speech was published by the Kremlin.  The Saker also published the speech.  He’s an outstanding analyst and his website, TheSaker.is, a valuable resource.  We have elected to run with his version given the bold face text emphasis he added to spotlight key portions of Putin’s speech.

Eric Dubin, independent financial/geopolitical analyst and managing editor, The News Doctors.

# # # #

Putin speaking with over 700 Russian armed forces service personnel, March 17, 2016 (Photo credit: Kremlin.ru)

Putin speaking with over 700 Russian armed forces service personnel, March 17, 2016 (Photo credit: Kremlin.ru)

TND Guest Contributor:  The Saker

 

At a meeting in the Kremlin’s St George Hall, Vladimir Putin presented state decorations to service personnel and defence industry specialists who distinguished themselves in the performance of special missions in the Syrian Arab Republic. More than 700 officers and men of the Aerospace Forces, the Ground Forces and the Navy attended the ceremony, along with representatives of the military-industrial complex.

[Note from the Saker: emphasis added by me, the Saker]

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Comrade officers, friends,

I would like to welcome you – all the service personnel who took part in the operation in Syria.

All of you – pilots, sailors, service personnel of control bodies, of special purpose units, intelligence, communication and procurement, military advisers – acted consistently and with precision.

Words of special gratitude go to the female service personnel. You serve alongside men, with persistence and dignity. Your choice in life brings you our deep respect.

Thank you all for your dedication to our Fatherland.

Russia is proud of you, of its soldiers and officers who protect the interests of their homeland with a great degree professionalism and courage.

Comrade officers,

You remember what the situation was like in September of 2015. Back then, a significant part of the country was seized by terrorist groups, and the situation was getting worse.

In full compliance with international law, at the request of the legitimate government and the country’s president, we made a decision to launch our military operation. From the very start, we were very clear about its goals: support of the Syrian army in its lawful struggle with terrorist groups. Our actions were also timed for the period of active assaults against the terrorists. We stated clearly that we did not intend to get involved in an internal Syrian conflict. Only the Syrians themselves should seek a final solution and decide their country’s future.

The main target of our operation was terrorism. The struggle against international terrorism is a fair and righteous cause. This is a struggle against enemies of civilisation, against those who bring barbarity and violence, trying to renounce the great spiritual, humanitarian values that the world rests on.

I would like to repeat that the main goal of our actions in Syria was to stop the global evil and not to let terrorism spread to Russia. And our country has demonstrated its unquestionable leadership, willpower and responsibility.

Regarding the results we have achieved. Your actions and intense combat effort turned the situation around. We did not let this terrorist tumour grow, destroyed the bandits’ hiding places and munitions depots and blocked oil smuggling routes that brought the terrorists their main funding.

We have done a huge amount of work to support the lawful Syrian authorities – this is what I spoke about when addressing the United Nations on the organisation’s 70th anniversary. We strengthened their armed forces, which are now capable of not only holding back the terrorists, but also of conducting assault operations against them. The Syrian army has gained the strategic initiative and continues clearing its land of terrorists.

The main thing is that we have created conditions for the start of a peaceful process. We have managed to achieve positive, constructive cooperation with the United States of America and a number of other countries, as well as with the responsible political forces within Syria that truly wish to stop the war and find the only possible political solution to the conflict. It was you, Russian soldiers who opened up the road to peace.

Putin speaking with over 700 Russian armed forces service personnel, March 17, 2016 (Photo credit: Kremlin.ru)

Putin speaking with over 700 Russian armed forces service personnel, March 17, 2016 (Photo credit: Kremlin.ru)

Comrade officers,

After the ceasefire agreement was reached between the opposition and government forces, the scope of work for our aviation units was significantly reduced. The number of sorties went down threefold from 60–80 to 20–30 a day.

This made the grouping we had created there excessive in the military sense. The decision to withdraw a significant part of our service personnel and equipment was coordinated with the President of Syria Bashar al-Assad, who was notified of our plans in advance and supported them.

I would like to add that in our joint statement, Russia and the United States stressed that the struggle against terrorist organisations, recognised as such by the UN, will continue. Meanwhile, the government troops in Syria will not conduct any action against the armed units of the Syrian opposition that indicated their commitment to a ceasefire.

At the same time, I would like to stress that any group violating the ceasefire will be taken off the list provided by the United States, with all the consequences that come with it.

In this connection, I would like to specify the tasks our service personnel remaining in the Syrian Republic will be working on.

I will repeat that the primary task is to monitor ceasefire and create conditions for a political internal dialogue in Syria.

Our bases in Syria are at Tartus and Khmeimim, the service personnel there are reliably protected from land, sea and air. All the components of the deployed air defence system, including close range Pantsir-F and long-range S-400 Triumph units will be on regular duty.

I would like to note that we have significantly restored the potential of the Syrian air defence forces as well. All the parties concerned have been made aware of this. We proceed from fundamental international norms – nobody has the right to violate the airspace of a sovereign country, Syria in this case.

We have created together with the American side an efficient mechanism to prevent air incidents, but all our partners have been warned that our air defence systems will be used against any target that we deem to be threatening Russian service personnel. I want to stress – any target.

We will of course continue to provide assistance to the lawful Syrian government. This assistance is comprehensive in nature and includes financial aid, supplies of equipment and arms, assistance in training and building Syrian armed forces, reconnaissance support and assistance to headquarters in planning operations. And finally, direct support, I mean, the use of our space force and strike and fighter aviation. The Russian forces that remain in Syria are enough to ensure this.

We will continue to assist the Syrian army and authorities in their fight against the so-called Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups that have been declared as such, as I have said, by the UN Security Council. Our uncompromising attitude to terrorism remains unchanged.

What will the balance of forces be like after the reduction of the Russian group? A balance would be ensured.

Moreover, I am certain that with our support and strengthening of the Syrian army, we will shortly see the patriotic forces there achieve success in their struggle against terrorism.

As you may know, fierce fighting is on around Palmyra and on the approaches to the city. I hope this treasure of the world civilisation, or whatever is left of it after the bandits got there, would be returned to the people of Syria and the whole world.

If necessary, of course, Russia will be able to enhance its group in the region in a matter of hours to a size required for a specific situation and to use all the options available.

We would not want to do that. Military escalation is not our choice. Therefore, we still count on the common sense of both sides, on the adherence by both the Syrian authorities and the opposition to a peaceful process.

In this connection, I would like to note the position of President Bashar al-Assad. We see his reserve, his sincere striving for peace, his readiness for compromise and dialogue. The very fact that we withdrew part of our military group there against the backdrop of negotiations on the Syrian settlement that started in Geneva is an important positive signal, and I am certain that all parties to the Syrian conflict will duly appreciate it.

We will work and make every effort in coordination with our partners to help establish peace in Syria, to rid the long-suffering people of Syria of the terrorist threat and help the Syrians restore their country.

Comrade officers,

You have proved that our army and navy are strong, modern and well equipped and our warriors are steadfast, well-trained and hardened, capable of resolving the most complicated large-scale tasks.

In the course of the anti-terrorist operation, you have performed more than 9,000 operational sorties. Mass strikes using high-precision Kalibr cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 km were dealt at terrorist facilities from our naval ships located in two seas – the Caspian and the Mediterranean, both from subsurface ships and a submarine. We are proud of the professional actions of our navy.

Our long-range strategic aviation has also done a good job. Thus, they used new air-based X-101 missiles with a range of about 4,500 km. And finally, over the short period in Syria, as I have said, we deployed a modern and efficient air defence system and developed cooperation between all the forces and resources and organised administrative support for the group. Our military transport aviation and Navy support vessels have done well too.

In other words, all the most important support issues, the organisation of our group in a remote combat area were resolved competently and in a timely manner, which again demonstrated the enhanced quality of Russia’s Armed Forces.

I would also like to thank representatives of the military-industrial complex: workers, engineers and designers. The latest Russian weaponry has passed the tests, and not at shooting ranges but in real combat. This is the best and the most serious test.

This experience will make it possible to introduce necessary changes, to improve the efficiency and reliability of the equipment, to create new generation weaponry, and to improve the Armed Forces and enhance their combat capability. Life itself has shown that they are a reliable guarantee of our country’s security.

We should bear in mind the threats that appear when we do not do things on time; we should remember the lessons of history, including the tragic events of the beginning of World War II and the Great Patriotic War, the price we paid for mistakes in military construction and planning and the shortage in new military equipment. Everything should be done on time, while weakness, neglect and omissions are always dangerous.

The military operation in Syria certainly required certain funds, however the main part of the funding came from the Defence Ministry, their resources. Some 33 billion rubles were earmarked in the Ministry’s 2015 budget for military exercises. We simply retargeted these funds to support our group in Syria, and there is hardly a better way of training and perfecting combat skills than under real combat conditions. In this sense, it is better to use motor operating time and combat stock in combat than at a testing range. You, professionals, know this better than anyone else.

Obviously, additional funds will be required to restock our arsenals, equipment and ammunition, including repairs of the equipment that was used in Syria. I am sure these costs are reasonable and necessary, because this was a chance to test everything in combat, find faults and rectify them. These costs help enhance our country’s defence capability and resolve strategic and current tasks to ensure Russia’s security. We need to do it now, to avoid paying a much higher price later.

That price is high, and I am not talking about money now. Here in this hall are Yelena Peshkova, Valentina Cheremisina, Irina Pozynich and Yulia Zhuravleva – widows of our comrade officers who died fighting terrorists. I know that for their families and friends, the loss of Oleg, Ivan, Alexander and Fedor is irreparable. We all take this as our own loss. That is why I used your husbands’, fathers’ and sons’ first names. I spoke not as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief or President, but as a grateful citizen of Russia who grieves over this loss. We will remember their courage and chivalry; we will remember them as real men and courageous warriors.

Comrade officers,

The large-scale operation in Syria went on for more than 5 months in a complicated region, far from Russia, and you have done your duty with honour by protecting the security of your country and your people at faraway frontiers. The tasks you were set have been generally met, troops are returning to their regular deployment locations, returning home, to Russia.

I would like to note here, for this audience and for the entire country: Russia’s main agenda today is that of peace. It has to do with developing the economy in complicated conditions, with maintaining and improving the wellbeing of our people. However, without ensuring our security, without creating a battle-ready, modern and efficient Army and Navy we would not resolve a single task. Moreover, the very existence of a sovereign and independent Russia would not be possible without it.

It is very symbolic that we are honouring you in the legendary St George hall that holds the history of Russia’s military glory along with the names of its great sons. Everything here is filled with the victorious spirit of Russian warriors. Our officers and men have demonstrated yet again that they are courageous, noble, strong-willed warriors, true to their Fatherland

Thank you for your service. I thank all the participants of the military operation in Syria. Thank you.

Allow me now to move on to the presentation of state decorations. I will not be able to present them all today. I will present them to some of you; however, I assure you that we know how each one of you did your duty.

Thank you.

Source: http://www.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/51526

A version of this work was published at TheSaker.is and is licensed by Saker Analytics, LLC under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 International license (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0).

putin-lTND Guest Contributor:  The Saker

Vladimir 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 ceased 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 wroteexactly 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 🙂

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

The 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 smallforce 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?

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.

Still, what if the Americans are successful?  After all, Daesh has taken a bad beating any 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 facto partition 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?

I want 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 avery 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.

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 the 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 Russian 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 time and so far Putin has timed his 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 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.

This work was published at TheSaker.is and is licensed by Saker Analytics, LLC under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 International license (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0).

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catherine austin fittsTND Guest Contributor:  The Saker

Last month I have had the real pleasure to have a one hour long conversation with Catherine Austin Fitts, the president of Solari, Inc., the publisher of The Solari Report and managing member of Solari Investment Advisory Services.  Normally, the Catherine’s interviews are for subscribers only, but she has kindly agreed to make it available for free to our community.

This was the first time I had granted anybody an hour long interview over the phone and I have to admit that I enjoyed it very much.  Catherine and I are planning to repeat this on a quarterly basis.

Here is the main page of our interview: https://solari.com/blog/russia-and-global-geopolitics-with-the-saker/

You can get the transcript in PDF format here: https://solari.com/00archive/web/solarireports/2016/sr20160204_1.pdf

As for the audio, you can listen to it here: https://solari.com/audio/sr20160204_InterviewHQ.mp3

As I said, it was a real pleasure talking to Catherine (thanks A. for putting us in touch!) and I look forward to your future conversations.  In the meantime, I highly recommend that you check out the rest of the Solari Reports and the Solari Books.

I hope that you will enjoy the interview as much as I did.

Kind regards,

The Saker

This work was published at TheSaker.is and is licensed by Saker Analytics, LLC under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 International license (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0).