An extraordinary warning tonight from Russia to the US against conducting military strikes in Syria. In a strongly worded statement, a spokesperson for the Russian defense minister said any [US] strikes against President Bashar Assad’s regime … could result in American aircraft being shot down. (ABC)
US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter responded Friday that Russia will face the consequences for its growing involvement in Syria. (See, they are surprised Russia has had the boxy to involve itself in a way that endangers US aircraft as a result of earlier advice from Hillary that said it wouldn’t. Thus, the Obama administration professes outrage that things have taken this seriously dangerous turn.)
The Pentagon this week has been presenting the Obama administration with options for potential strikes on Assad’s air force bases to punish the regime for its failure to abide by the recent ceasefire agreement. (And, as the next article shows, because overthrowing Assad was always Plan One as a measure of support for Israel.) State Department officials, however, have said that Obama is unlikely to approve the strikes, though the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in favor of them.
To this news of recommended air strikes directly against Assad, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, the Russian defense ministry spokesman, responded,
I would recommend our colleagues in Washington to thoroughly consider the possible consequences of the realization of such plans.
This is about as close as you get to a hot war with Russia without actually being in one. Russia is not just saber rattling. It is saying its missiles will be in the air, and Russia won’t have time to coordinate missile flight plans with the US. So, if the US happens to be in the air in the same place and same time, its planes could get shot down.
I think there is even more to this warning than concern that US planes may accidentally get caught in the fire:
Konashenkov, however, suggested Russia would target any unidentified aircraft attacking Syrian government targets and warned “American strategists” not to assume a covert intervention would go unanswered…. Konashenkov also warned that Russian troops were now widely deployed across Syria, implying any strikes could hit them, pulling the U.S. into conflict with Russia. Konashenkov referred again to a strike on Sept. 17, when U.S. military aircraft killed dozens of Syrian government troops accidentally. The Pentagon has said the strike was a mistake, but Konashenkov said Russia was prepared to prevent “any similar ‘mistakes’” against Russian troops.
In other words, all stealth aircraft (by nature “unidentified”) that attack Assad will be targeted and shot down, even though they most likely belong to the US if they are not planes Russia can identify as its own; and any US attacks against Assad that wind up endangering Russian troops will receive a direct Russian counter-attack.
Russian bombardment of the besieged city of Aleppo during the past week was described as the most intense in this war to date. At the same time, the fact that the talk of targeting by the US has been directed at Assad’s air bases says that clearly regime change is the only order of the day for the US. ISIS seems to have become a sideshow compared to US rage against Assad. (It was, in fact, a sideshow from the beginning of Clinton’s recommendations for a US war against Assad.)
In Syria, these tensions advanced this week very close to becoming a hot war — about as hot as the Cuban Missile Crisis. As soon as US Secretary of State John Kerry terminated diplomatic relations with Russia in the Syrian war this past week, the Syrian war began to look and sound all the more like the “very, very familiar proxy war cycle from the bad old days of the Cold War” (Vox) that some said it was.
The Clinton reset button looks more and more like the proverbial nuclear button that launched a purposeful chain of regime-change wars that is turning out to be more of chain reaction.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday he had detected increasing U.S. hostility towards Moscow and complained about what he said was a series of aggressive U.S. steps that threatened Russia's national security.
In an interview with Russian state TV likely to worsen already poor relations with Washington, Lavrov made it clear he blamed the Obama administration for what he described as a sharp deterioration in U.S.-Russia ties.
"We have witnessed a fundamental change of circumstances when it comes to the aggressive Russophobia that now lies at the heart of U.S. policy towards Russia," Lavrov told Russian state TV's First Channel.
"It's not just a rhetorical Russophobia, but aggressive steps that really hurt our national interests and pose a threat to our security."
With relations between Moscow and Washington strained over issues from Syria to Ukraine, Lavrov reeled off a long list of Russian grievances against the United States which he said helped contribute to an atmosphere of mistrust that was in some ways more dangerous and unpredictable than the Cold War.
He complained that NATO had been steadily moving military infrastructure closer to Russia's borders and lashed out at Western sanctions imposed over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis.
He also said he had heard that some policy makers in Washington were suggesting that President Barack Obama sanction the carpet bombing of the Syrian government's military air fields to ground its air force.
"This is a very dangerous game given that Russia, being in Syria at the invitation of the legitimate government of this country and having two bases there, has got air defence systems there to protect its assets," said Lavrov.
Lavrov said he hoped Obama would not agree to such a scenario.
Russia suspended a treaty with Washington on cleaning up weapons grade plutonium earlier this month in response to what it said were "unfriendly acts" by the United States.
Lavrov said both countries had the right to pull out of the treaty in the event of "a fundamental change in circumstances".
"The treaty was concluded when relations were normal, civilised, when no one ... was trying to interfere in the (other's) internal affairs. That's the fundamental change of circumstances," said Lavrov.
An analysis of US generals’ growing dissatisfaction with the political leadership in Washington sheds new light on the direction in which the American military machine is heading. In particular, it is interesting to observe the military planning for the future of the sea, air, space, cyberspace, and land forces.