There can be no "moderate" terrorists, President Putin said, speaking about the situation in the Middle East at the Valdai discussion forum.
"Why play with words dividing terrorists into moderate and not moderate. What's the difference?" Putin told the forum.
A whole "snarl" of terrorist groups act in the region, who fight also against each other for "sources of income" and not for ideology, Putin said, adding that the weapons provided to "moderate" opposition in the region had ended up in the hands of terrorists.
Some countries are playing a double game, the Russian president said, adding that while they fight against terrorism they also "place figures on the board" in their own interests.
“Success in fighting terrorists cannot be reached if using some of them as a battering ram to overthrow disliked regimes," Putin told the forum, saying that this way the terrorists would not go anywhere. "It's just an illusion that they can be dealt with [later], removed from power and somehow negotiated with," he added.
Saying that the efforts of the Russian military in Syria will positively affect the situation in the country, helping to provide conditions for political settlement, the Russian president also stressed that defeating terrorists will not solve all the problems in Syria.
"I'd like to stress once again that [Russia's operation in Syria] is completely legitimate, and its only aim is to aid in establishing peace," the Russian president said in Sochi, adding that the decision to deploy the Air Force was made following a request from the Syrian government.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has also agreed with the possibility of Russia offering support to the Syrian opposition in their fight against ISIS, Putin said. "I've asked [Assad]: What would you say if we support the opposition's efforts in their fight against terrorists the way we support the Syrian Army? And he said: My attitude is positive," the Russian leader told the Valdai forum.
"We had the right to expect that work on development of US missile defense system would stop. But nothing like it happened, and it continues," Putin said, adding that the international security system has been destroyed under the pretext of the Iranian “threat.”
There is a possibility that US anti-missile shield bases in Eastern Europe might be used for offensive weapons, the president said, adding that it may be regarded as a threat to Russia. A dialogue on limitation of strategic nuclear forces should be continued, Putin added.
"This is a very dangerous scenario, harmful for all, including the United States itself," the Russian president told the forum.
There can be no winner in conflicts involving nuclear weapons, the Russian leader said.
Trade and sanctions wars show “unfair competition” on the US side, the Russian president said, commenting on current political and economic relations in the world. Moral norms should be considered in international, political, military and economic rivalry, Putin said, adding that otherwise the competition could get out of control.
“Russia could also declare the necessity to democratize the USA, but that would, at a minimum, be impolite,” Putin told the discussion forum.
Formation of economic blocs based on conspiratorial principles will not make the world a safer place, but rather produce a basis for future conflicts, the President said. Pointing out that European companies have also suffered from sanctions the US has imposed on other nations, he concluded that these kinds of measures taken by Washington demonstrate that it treats other countries “like vassals who are being punished, rather than allies.”
By holding military exercises NATO is sending a message to Russia and preparing public opinion in the West that Russia constitutes an existential threat to the US and, therefore, there must be a new arms race, says Brian Becker from the anti-war ANSWER Coalition.
The US Navy tested its anti-missile defense system during an exercise in Europe on October, 20 successfully intercepting an anti-ship cruise missile fired from the Scottish coast with the help of tracking from allied ships. The sea exercises involved ships from the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Britain.
RT: NATO makes little secret that Russia is the reason behind these exercises. Do you think it is an effective way to send a message to Moscow?
Brian Becker: I think the US government and NATO are sending a message to Russia, but they are also sending a message to their own populations at home. And the message is this: “A new arms race is underway and you better just accept it.” Even though millions of people in the US are still unemployed and there is a great amount of homelessness, and even though social service budgets are being cut - the US government and federal government with the Pentagon are ramping up for a new arms race which will cost trillions of dollars every year. And yes, of course, they have an arms race to justify it, a pretext is needed. And in 2015 the Pentagon released its quadrennial military doctrine report announcing that Russia is now the number one threat to the US – not ISIS, not so-called Islamic extremism – it is the Russian government. In every sense the coup d’état that was engineered by the West and particularly by the US that overthrew a neutral government in Ukraine in February 2014, the arms race and all of the other predictable political events that go with it is fully under way. And that what these new military exercises demonstrate.
RT: Can we expect these exercises to be constant from now on?
BB: Yes, they have to. In other words what the US is doing through the war exercises is not shoring up threatened countries in Eastern Europe and Central Europe who are presumably shaking in their boots by the Russian threat. What they are really doing is preparing popular opinion in the West and in the US that Russia really does constitute an existential threat to America; and that’s - there must be another generation of nuclear weapons, another generation of arms race, another vast expenditure of the American national budget into the military-industrial complex. So, yes, there will be many more war games, more exercises. Again, NATO sends Russia a message about aggression in Eastern and Central Europe – that is not happening. It is really about preparing public opinion at home and also shoring up its alliances in Europe so that Germany and France don’t become independent of NATO and start to seek their own relations with Russia which, of course, would be in their own national interests.
Vladimir Putin is basking in Russia’s triumphant return to the world stage.
What began with a land grab in Crimea and escalated with support for the separatists at Donetsk, culminated in Moscow’s dramatic entry into Syria’s protracted civil war.
To be sure, the deplorable (not to mention comically absurd) strategy adopted by the US and its regional allies in Syria set Putin up for success. The situation was highly exploitable by anyone that’s strategically minded and thanks to the convoluted set of alliances Washington has built with groups that later turned out to be extremists, Moscow gets to achieve its regional ambitions while simultaneously fighting terrorism. Meanwhile, Washington, Riyadh, Ankara, and Doha are left to look on helplessly as their Sunni extremist proxy armies are devastated by the Russian air force. The Kremlin knows there’s little chance that the West and its allies will step in to directly support the rebels - the optics around that would quickly turn into a PR nightmare.
All of this has provided the perfect backdrop for Putin to begin what’s amounted to a lecture tour on how to conduct foreign policy.
“Why play with words dividing terrorists into moderate and not moderate. What's the difference?,” Putin asked, adding that “success in fighting terrorists cannot be reached if using some of them as a battering ram to overthrow disliked regimes [because] it's just an illusion that they can be dealt with [later], removed from power and somehow negotiated with.”
"I'd like to stress once again that [Russia's operation in Syria] is completely legitimate, and its only aim is to aid in establishing peace," Putin said of Moscow’s Mid-East strategy. And while he’s probably telling the truth there, it’s only by default. That is, peace in Syria likely means the restoration of Assad (it's difficult to imagine how else the country can be stabilized in the short-term), and because that aligns with Russia’s interests, The Kremlin is seeking to promote peace - it’s more a tautology than it is a comment on Putin’s desire for goodwill towards men.
And then there’s Iran and its nascent nuclear program. Putin accused the US of illegitimately seeking to play nuclear police officer, a point on which he is unquestionably correct: The "hypothetical nuclear threat from Iran is a myth. The US was just trying to destroy the strategical balance, [and] not to just dominate, but be able to dictate its will to everyone – not only geopolitical opponents, but also allies."
Speaking of nukes, Putin also warned that some nuclear powers seem to believe that there’s a way to take the “mutually” out of “mutually assured destruction.”
That is, Putin warned against the dangers of thinking it’s possible to “win” a nuclear war. Commenting on US anti-missile shields in Europe and on the idea of MAD, Putin said the following:
"We had the right to expect that work on development of US missile defense system would stop. But nothing like it happened, and it continues. This is a very dangerous scenario, harmful for all, including the United States itself. The deterrent of nuclear weapons has started to lose its value, and some have even got the illusion that a real victory of one of the sides can be achieved in a global conflict, without irreversible consequences for the winner itself – if there is a winner at all.”
In short, Putin is suggesting that the world may have gone crazy. The implication is that the US believes it not only has the capacity to win a war against the nations Washington habitually places on its various lists of "bad guys" (i.e. Russia, Iran, and China), but that Washington believes America can win without incurring consequences that are commensurate with the damage the US inflicts on its enemies. That, Putin believes, is a dangerous miscalculation and one that could end up endangering US citizens.
So once again, this is Putin setting the narrative and jumping at every opportunity to portray Russia as a nation that's not content to "lead from behind" (as so many have recently accused the US of doing). And once again, his assessment seems remarkably sober in a world that does indeed seem to have lost its collective mind.
Combat report: Russian Air Force carries out 53 sorties, strikes 72 terrorist targets in Syria — RT News
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