RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 24 OCTOBER 2019 by Patrick Armstrong

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SYRIA. A master class on patient, intelligent diplomacy engaging all players combined with the judicial application of force, supported by the bravery and skill of its military culminating in the recent screenplay in seven acts. 1 Ankara says it will invade; 2 Washington pulls out (helped along with stones, jeers and vegetables, note the contrast with the Russian reception); 3 Kurds instantly do a deal with Damascus; 4 Syrian army and Russian MPs immediately move; 5 Trump sends some minions to "negotiate" a "ceasefire"; 6 Putin and Erdoğan wrap it up; 7 Ankara says no need for more fighting. Trump announces. Everybody wins except the war party. I have two questions: how involved was Trump in writing the script? (certainly he outwitted the war party) and did any Turkish troops actually cross the border? (don't see why they needed to). Next stop Idlib. (Russian MP video – Syria owes these men (and women) a lot – usually the first into no man's land.) I can't resist saying that consumers of the Western corporate media would have been dumbfounded by every act of the playstill are; NATO and the US Senate ditto. The Four A’s of American Policy Failure in Syria. Saker's analysis.

DELAMINATION. Did US Secretary of State Pompeo just threaten military action against a NATO ally? Where would that leave the famous Article 5? Anyway, we have the latest failure of the neocons' PNAC – stones and jeers, bomb your own base because you left so fast, Iraq refuses to take you.

FAKE NEWS. ABC shows Turks slaughtering Kurds – actually a mad minute at a US gun range. But, whatever, an honest mistake that anyone could make.

DIPLOMACY. "But Russia will never be friends with one country against another" and that is why Moscow can put together solutions in places like Syria; people who think it should take sides will be disappointed. It's a cold-blooded, realistic but effective point of view and Putin has been saying it for years. Moralistic foreign policy is a bust – especially hypocritical moralism. (Putin & Co remember that Moscow used to be "exceptionalist" and have learned from its failure.)

TERRORISM. The FSB Director says law enforcement agencies prevented 39 terrorist attacks and eliminated 49 terrorist cells so far this year; some with US help.

HOLIDAYS. The two most popular air routes are Moscow to Simferopol and Moscow to Sochi. Apart from showing that Russians like sun and sea and are finding them at home, I make two observations. Crimea is, as it used to do, attracting lots of tourists and Sochi was not $15 billion squandered on a once-off Olympics; it was an investment in a sports and tourist destination. Both are paying off.

AIRLINERS. In another blow to the staggering Boeing enterprise, Aeroflot has cancelled its order for 22 Dreamliners. Martynov suggests that this may in fact be another case of import substitution: the MC-21 covers the medium ranges and a new Il-96 (arguably the safest passenger plane in the world) is in the works for long range. So, make them at home, use them at home and sell them to China and the other victims of the "Rules-Based International Order". Boeing and Airbus can have their little markets.

AURUS the Russian luxury car brand and supplier of the Putinmobile, says it has 600 private pre-orders already. I'm not surprised – I can see Russian plutocrats, who would otherwise buy a luxury Merc, wanting to show their patriotism (or suck up to The Boss) by buying Russian.

TRAIN CARS. Fans of long-range Russian trains can see the new sleeper cars.

ISOLATED. Remember when Putin and Russia were isolated? In the last two weeks, visits to Saudi Arabia and UAE, meeting Erdoğan, calls to Assad, Macron and Merkel. Now a Russia-Africa meeting.

COUP ATTEMPT. Larry Johnson sums up the moving parts of the conspiracy against Trump.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. A retired admiral appears to call for a coup and Tulsi is a Russian asset. Taibbi sums it up "Everyone Is a Russian Asset".

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. At least it was a warship and not a cruise ship. (The comments add another coating of stupidity.)

UKRAINE. Chairman of the National Corps Andrei Biletsky gave President Zelensky until Friday to drop all Minsk obligations. The guns have spoken, all Zelensky has is the support of the population; now what happens? There's a theory (but how can he pull it off? – the guns will go nuts) that he "renounces" the contested territories – the so-called Cyprus scenario. Meanwhile some congressmen have called on the US State Department to declare Azov to be international terrorists.

SANCTIONS. Another failure: Huawei VP says sanctions pushed it to self-reliance.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

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18 Responses to RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 24 OCTOBER 2019 by Patrick Armstrong

  1. Avatar Barbara Ann says:

    Hold the front page; Gordian knot cut by Trump!
    Well he certainly wielded the sword, but I have yet to find anywhere a definitive answer to your first question. b thinks we will have to wait for the memoirs. My own feeling is that Trump must have at least read and agreed the script ahead of time. I first smelt a rat with the ‘green light’ announcement on 6th and Trump’s withdrawal order the day after. His remarks subsequently have confirmed my suspicions, for example yesterday:

    “Our troops are safe, and the pain and suffering of the three-day fight that occurred was directly responsible for our ability to make an agreement with Turkey and the Kurds that could never have been made without this short-term outburst”

    Could Trump have believed Turkey would take over NE Syria instead of what happened? Maybe, but for my money he knew the plan was to get the Kurds to run into the arms of Assad. The screenplay was a masterpiece anyhow, I look forward to the next part of the trilogy.

  2. Avatar Jane says:

    Note: The RF MP that performed so well in Aleppo after the surrender of the jihadis were Chechens, selected because, as Sunni Muslims, they could reassure the population that they were there to keep order. The Russians had arranged in advance that neither Hezbollah nor the other militias would enter the fallen side of the city.
    The Chechen MPs did run into trouble when they deployed for a similar mission in Idlib. When the Chechen jihadis found out who they were, they went crazy and the SAA had to rescue them. I wonder if this contingent is also from the Caucasus.

  3. Avatar Jane says:

    Putin’s victory lap through the Gulf had many goals. I’m sure he was quite content that the UAE Crown Prince has come to its senses and is repairing relations with Iran. I’m sure he is advising MbS to do likewise.
    However, in addition to other economic deals discussed, was Putin’s attempt to further solidify UAE and possible SA investment in his plan for an artic port [thank you, global warming.] The UAE, of course, has its highly professional Dubai Ports that would be operating at least one of our ports had not anti-Arab sentiment squashed the negotiations. Putin had been counting on China, but its leadership is preoccupied with its belt and road, not an iceberg at this time.

  4. Avatar Mina says:

    I think Trump’s move is directly addressed to the Europeans. They created the mess and they have to fix it themselves. The UK report on the rush to Libya war has put in evidence complete improvisation and the role of France in convincing its allies. So let’s ask Sarkozy and BHL on that rather than Trump. The deal with Turkey was then made, as were the deals with the Gulf who wanted to get rid of the charismatic and young Asad.
    The current situation was going to evolve into a status quo “Palestine type” which would still be impossible to fix in a 100 years. That’s the only thing the French and the UK have been good at. Let your djihadists be cared of by others, let the refugees be taken care of by others, and empty the pockets of your people to pay for the inhumane refugee camps in Greece and Turkey, since it is far enough from our borders.

  5. Avatar Peter AU 1 says:

    Doyou have any links to the incident of Chechen jihadis attacking the Russian military police. As far as I know, these only go into reconciliation areas.

  6. Avatar oldman22 says:

    Helmer analyzes Russian position in Syria, with some nuance lacking elsewhere.
    “The big fact on the ground that’s being missed in North America is that Putin has agreed to another Turkish invasion of a neighbouring country.”
    http://johnhelmer.net/gorilla-radio-the-syrian-tug-of-war-is-still-war-against-syria-and-russians-trust-the-army-more-than-president-putin-to-wage-it/print/

  7. Note: The RF MP that performed so well in Aleppo after the surrender of the jihadis were Chechens,
    Many, but not all–there are still quite a few Slavs and Tatars in MP in Syria.

  8. Here is (in Russian) report of Russian MP platoon fighting back against jihadists, 29 Russian MPs and 10 Syrian soldiers.
    https://youtu.be/iIVbSfmSHas
    Actually, the platoon was mixed and commanded by Russian,all doesn’t really matter–all Russians (Chechens and Dagi included, Russian soldiers). They fought like hell until SSO arrived, then pretty much the outcome was easily predictable.

  9. Avatar d74 says:

    From an eurpean:
    Quite true. And fair. But,left to ourselves we would not have started in 2011/2012. It took the US impulse to which our deep states were quick to obey. (In Europe, deep state= pro-US, on their knees,hanging tongue out.)

  10. Avatar Peter AU 1 says:

    I thought the military police wore the red berets.
    There have been several incidents of Russian frontline forces having to fight it out with the Jihadis on their own.
    One was when Syrian forces retreated and the small Russian force held a strategic position and were cut off for a time.
    Another, I think a small unit, perhaps five Russian arrived at a front line and were immediately hit with a strong attack. I think four were quickly hit, the the last man holding the jihadis off for sometime until help arrived.

  11. Avatar Barbara Ann says:

    I honestly couldn’t disagree with Helmer’s piece more. His core point is that Putin disregarded the rest of Russia’s leadership in allowing the Turkish invasion & occupation in the ‘safe zone’. He seems to miss entirely the bigger picture; that this was essential in order to remove US forces from the border. The SAA & Russian MP’s (the latter a tripwire too) are flooding in and will shortly have secured it all (including around the safe zone). This is an enormous coup for Putin and a major step towards ending the war.
    He also says:

    “To Trump’s supporters and the anti-war party, Putin and Erdogan have made a better agreement towards ending the war in Syria than the one Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed the week before”

    This is laughable. Patrick Armstrong’s description of Pence’s mission as part of the wider overall plan is accurate. The ceasefire war part of the charade, allowing critical time for the US to get out and be replaced by SAA/Russian troops. I think Trump knew exactly what he was doing sending Pence on the fools mission and it was brilliant.
    Helmer then goes on to moan about the fact that Idlib is not yet liberated in accordance with the 2018 DEZ agreement. Well Rome wasn’t built in a day. To most other observers Putin is doing a remarkable job of liberating what he can with limited Syrian ground forces, whilst at the same time juggling his relationship with Erdogan. In fact, I see Idlib as a liability for Turkey now. It is like a dangling testicle to be squeezed at will. The ‘pain’ is the threat of hundreds of thousands more refugees flooding into Turkey. Erdo has his Weapon of Mass Migration wrt the EU and Putin and Assad have their own wrt Turkey.
    I’d encourage Helmer to publish his own plan showing how he would have achieved a rout of US forces from 300 miles of the Syrian border without a Turkish incursion.

  12. Much as I generally respect Helmer’s acuity I think he’s got hold of the wrong end of the stick here. We in the West have grown accustomed to “diplomacy” as moralistic posturing and ultimatums and have forgotten what the real, slow, patient, step by step thing looks like. Moscow’s aim from the start was 1) a peaceful stable Syria 2 and neighbours 3 with a lot of jihadist graves.

  13. Avatar oldman22 says:

    Peter Galbraith has been close to the Kurds for many years. He just published an article describing the current situation in Syria, containing many insights which are new to me. Too much to restate, read for yourself here:
    https://outline.com/r3Dbva

  14. Avatar oldman22 says:

    I hold your experience in Russia in high regard, and certainly have no comparable experience, as I have never been to Russia or Syria, and do not speak their languages.
    However, I would like to ask what you mean by “he’s got hold of the wrong end of the stick here”.
    I think Helmer has many times written about Putin’s patience and diplomacy. He has also written about differences of view between Putin and his top advisers, i.e., Lavrov and Shoigu.
    Here is an example:
    quote
    After one of the longest, bitterest negotiations ever held between President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov forced the Turks into an agreement for a Turkish military enclave inside Syrian territory between Tal Abiad and Ras Al-Ain (Sari Kani). That is less than one-quarter of the Syrian territory Erdogan was demanding at the start of the Sochi talks.
    The western towns of Manbij and Kobani will remain Syrian, guaranteed by Russian arms and denied to Operation Peace Spring, as the Turks are calling their invasion since October 9.
    The Turkish advance eastwards along the Syrian Highway M4 to the Iraqi border has been stopped. The Syrian Army will reoccupy the eastern zone to the Yarubiya crossing, with Russian military police on the ground; that also means the Russian Air Force in the air.
    The practical result is that Russia accepts that the Turkish capture of Tal Abiad and Ras-Al-Ain since October 9 will not be reversed. This territory will thus be added to the Turkish hold on Afrin and Idlib in Syria’s northwest. Shoigu told [4] reporters there was no discussion of how long the Turkish forces will occupy these areas. This is a major Russian concession to the Turkish demand for permanent military occupation and partition of Syria.
    The Russians believe this concession is worth making to the Turks so long as the Americans are forced out; this is the message Putin has relayed to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
    http://johnhelmer.net/the-sultan-blinked-the-tsar-agreed-to-close-his-eyes-the-ottoman-empire-expands-by-118-kilometres-of-syria/print/

  15. I was referring to Helmer’s piece here http://johnhelmer.net/the-sultan-blinked-the-tsar-agreed-to-close-his-eyes-the-ottoman-empire-expands-by-118-kilometres-of-syria/#more-21528 in which he seems to be arguing that Erdogan somehow outwitted Putin. I don’t believe that. But, if there are still Turkish troops in Syria in, say, six months then I will have to admit Helmer saw something I didn’t.
    I expect this part of Syria to under Damascus’ control, perhaps with some Kurdish degree of autonomy and the border secured by Syrian forces.
    But we’ll see. it’s not over yet especially with this apparent US occupation of the oil fields.

  16. Avatar oldman22 says:

    Thanks for your reply.
    Yes, that is the same Helmer article I quoted.
    You say “he seems to be arguing that Erdogan somehow outwitted Putin. I don’t believe that.”
    I don’t read it like that. Helmer writes:
    “The Russians believe this concession is worth making to the Turks so long as the Americans are forced out; this is the message Putin has relayed to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”
    I read it as a concession knowingly made that was worthwhile, not that Putin was outwitted.
    And yes, agree with you that the continued USA military presence in oilfields is the key to whether or not the concession was worthwhile. The fly in the ointment.
    What I appreciate most about Helmer’s piece is his knowledge of Russia government, the differences of view between Putin vs. Lavrov and Shoigu, who spoke when, and who chose to remain silent.

  17. What I appreciate most about Helmer’s piece is his knowledge of Russia government, the differences of view between Putin vs. Lavrov and Shoigu, who spoke when, and who chose to remain silent.
    In my humble opinion, you give too much credit to a “knowledge” mixing it with “repackaging” or rumors in Moscow’s rumor mill. Some Helmer’s statements (especially on military issues) are puzzling to put it mildly.

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