With a swift determined twist, Russian leader V V Putin wrong-footed his American adversary, pinning him to the ground over the Syrian crisis. Writhing and flustered, the American opponent is protesting at being upended. First, in the form of a contorted media campaign smearing Russia’s military operations as somehow criminal. Second, the Americans are breathlessly claiming that Russia’s “outrageous” support for Syrian state forces is scuppering peace efforts. Third, the Americans tried to intimidate Russia by cutting off diplomatic contact over Syria, which is a veiled attempt to threaten Russia militarily, either from direct American intervention in Syria or indirectly by upping supply of anti-aircraft missiles to proxy terror groups.
Russia is having none of this American menacing. It proceeded to ramp up the military offensive along with Syrian forces to defeat the Western-backed terror groups in their last redoubt in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. If they vanquish the anti-government mercenaries there, then, the six-year foreign-fuelled war for régime change in Syria is all but over. In the diplomatic sphere, US Secretary of State John Kerry engaged with his Russian counterpart S V Lavrov for months. In diplomatic jargon, the two sides referred to each other as “partners”. However, in supporting opposing sides in the war and having diametric objectives, the real relationship between Washington and Moscow is clear… they’re adversaries. President Putin, an aficionado of judo and martial arts, once revealed part of his pugilist philosophy learned from growing up on the mean streets of postwar Leningrad… if a fight’s looming, then, don’t hesitate to strike first. Something of this philosophy just played out in Syria. The ceasefire plan worked out by Kerry and Lavrov was never possible, but we can commend both Russia and its Syrian ally for giving peace a chance by initially abiding by the ceasefire declared on 12 September. However, with the various foreign-backed insurgent groups continuing violence with hundreds of truce violations, it was clear that there was no chance of any kind of peaceful resolution. Furthermore, the much-vaunted American appeals for separation between so-called “moderate rebels” and proscribed terrorist brigades were a fallacy. All along, the Americans, their NATO allies, and their regional client régimes supported an array of illegally armed insurgents… terrorists. There’s no separation.
The deadly American airstrike on a Syrian army base in Deir ez-Zor on 17 September was the final proof that the Americans were never serious about calling a ceasefire. It was always about exploiting a much-needed relief for the foreign-backed terror proxies, which Russia and Syrian forces had hammered for the past year. Now, Russia and Syria shall resume their defeat of the terror brigades with even more vengeance because the failed ceasefire proved the fraudulence of Washington’s position on Syria… as not the backer of moderate rebels, but as the sponsor of terrorists, the same sort of terrorists who allegedly carried out the 9/11 attacks in New York City, which supposedly justified the USA’s foreign wars over the past 15 years. Now, here’s where Russia’s move in Syria becomes even more profound. Last weekend, after the Western media propaganda blitz about humanitarian suffering in Aleppo, Moscow issued a pointed statement warning that if the American-led military coalition, which is illegally operating in Syria in the first place, were to attack Syrian government forces again, then that would entail a “tectonic shift” for the region. Moscow’s statement was an unmistakable warning that any further American-led military action in Syria would mean all-out war.
This week, the Minoborony Rossii followed up this line in the sand by disclosing that it deployed the fearsome anti-aircraft/anti-missile S-300 missile system in Syria. Notably, too, the S-300 deployment came two days after Washington said that it was cutting off diplomatic talks with Russia over Syria. In other words, if Washington’s diplomatic snub meant to intimidate Russia, then, it clearly didn’t work. The stakes are higher than just the conflict in Syria. For at least five years, since Washington jettisoned its putative “reset policy” with Moscow, the American-led NATO military alliance pursued what can only be described as a policy of hostility towards Russia, a policy whose tacit logic is eventual war. Washington wants Russia to capitulate to its global hegemony, to revert to its pathetic vassal status as we saw under Yeltsin’s weak post-Soviet leadership. When Putin assumed power 16 years ago, Russia stopped being an American shoeshine boy. The country recovered its independence and national pride, as well as, crucially, its military prowess. Because of this independence, Washington and its European lackeys embarked on a geopolitical strategy of undermining Russia in every conceivable way, through NATO intimidation, political and media demonisation, and economic sanctions. However, this week, it appears that Putin finally had enough of relentless bullying from an American tyrant that is so out of line it found itself hopelessly wrong-footed.
When Putin announced the end of the bilateral accord with Washington to dispose of nuclear-weapon-grade plutonium, he said, with correct assessment, that it was because the Americans failed to keep their side of that bargain, and, moreover, because of the wider American hostility towards Russia on a raft of international issues, including Syria. Significantly, Russia demands that if the USA wants to resume the plutonium accord, then, it must fulfil several conditions. They include scaling back NATO forces on Russia’s borders, ending political harassment, scrapping economic sanctions, and compensating Russia for all financial losses. The BBC described Russia’s demands as an “astonishing list of conditions”. The point is that Russia knows that it gained the upper-hand over its American adversary. The Russian bear patiently tolerated unremitting provocations from the arrogant Americans for years. Even the ultimate US provocation of threatening Russia with war failed to deter Moscow from pursuing what it knows is right… to be treated with respect as an equal. The past year demonstrated that Russia has the military capability to face down any American threat, including the abominable threat of nuclear war, which the Americans repeatedly menaced through sly comments issued by its Pentagon chiefs. It seems not a coincidence this week that Russia announced defence drills involving 40 million of its citizens. In effect, Russia appears to be saying to the USA… we aren’t afraid of anything, we’re ready to defend our nation with even better capability than you have, so don’t even think about going to war. Washington can bluster all it wants about mulling military options in Syria, as it does in the Ukraine and elsewhere. Nevertheless, it’s futile bluster because Washington knows now that Russia slammed it with a geopolitical judo swing. The worst thing an adversary can do is underestimate an opponent. The arrogant ignorant Americans have certainly done that with regard to Russia.
5 October 2016