Russia

Millennial Intelligencer: Russia’s Options After Turkish Plane Downing

In light of the ongoing situation in north-western Syria, it is worth considering what options are available to the Kremlin in terms of their response to Turkey after the Turks downed a Russian SU-24.

First, let’s note what the Russians won’t do; they won’t directly respond in anyway. There probably won’t be direct military action against Turkey, because of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty.

NATO’s Article reads in part:

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all…”

While a clever reader may note that most of Turkey is in Asia Minor and not technically in Europe, and thus the Russians could potentially wage a war against Turkey as long as they steer clear of Istanbul, it seems unlikely that the Russians would risk this liberal interpretation of Article V.

Also it is worth noting that the downing of aircraft between NATO and the Soviet Union occurred multiple times in the 50s and 60s and it did not lead to direct war.

All right, so the Kremlin won’t be annexing Anatolia anytime soon, but what can they do?

As of now the Russian government has been shaping the narrative by claiming that this was a “stab in the back” and that Turkey is trying to “put the alliance [NATO] into the service of ISIS”.

Bellicose language like this will not get Mr. Putin far outside of Russia, but it will save some face domestically. While the claims being applied in this instance are utter nonsense when looking at a map like this one from the Institute for the Study of War and comparing it to the location of the shoot down, Mr. Putin could feasibly drum up xenophobia in the citizenry of NATO countries who frequently say to “kick Turkey out”. Especially as Turkey has faced changes in the domestic sphere as a conservative strongman– President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tightened his grip on power.

However, due to there being no mechanism in the North Atlantic Treaty for “kicking out” a member, and the strategic significance of the Bosporus Strait in containing the Russians, more than likely the response by Moscow will consist entirely of outrage and diplomatic wrist slaps.

Cover Photo Credit: Presidencia de la República Mexicana/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“That’s For Paris”: Russia Strikes Back At ISIS With Missile Launches

The Russian military is ramping up its military campaign in Syria with a pointed message to ISIS fighters there.

“That’s for Paris” a handwritten inscription on a Syria bound missile reads in a direct reference to the terror attacks that shocked the world last week in the French capital.

The message was sent out on Twitter by the Russian Embassy In the UK’s Twitter account.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that his nation will be ruthless in the fight against ISIS.

“We will search for them everywhere, wherever they are hiding. We will find them in any spot on the planet and we will punish them,” Putin said.

Cover Photo Credit: Russian Embassy, UK/ Twitter (Screengrab)

Millennial Intelligencer: Russia’s “Leaked” Doomsday Torpedo Might Be A Total Regime PR Move

Russian state TV has “accidentally” leaked several images of a potential nuclear torpedo, complete with large easy to see images and text.

Other than the cartoonish size of the schematics, one should also be highly skeptical of the accidental nature of this leak due to other recent attempts to frighten Western media by the regime.

This includes claims by Mr. Putin that Russia will develop qualitative means to defeat the NATO Missile Defense System, despite the system already being easily defeated by the sheer quantity of Russian delivery systems and easily developed countermeasures.

Of more immediate interest is the weapon system itself. Nuclear Torpedoes are not new, as both the United States and the Soviet Union developed torpedoes capable of carrying a 3-11 kiloton weapon at a range of a couple dozen miles or so.

Russian State TV

Leaked images of potential nuclear torpedo. Russian State TV

However, the “Status-6” will be much more powerful than that. With a range of 10,000 Kms (6,200 miles), about the distance from London to Lima, the autonomous unit can deliver its cargo of uranium-238 and cobalt-59 most anywhere, according to state media outlet Russia Gazette.

The system is compared to the Deadhand system in mission, meaning that the intention is likely deterrence and not first strike, if it is even developed. However, the curious claim is made that a number of Cobalt Bomb, meant to maximize radiation output, would be able to exterminate all life on Earth. Russia Gazette estimates that 510 tons of cobalt would be necessary. To date, no “salted” weapons of any kind have been tested, but a cobalt based weapon would be particularly nasty, due to the half-life of Co-60 being 5.26 years.

The information on the specifics of cobalt weapons, and further information on nuclear weapons, was provided by Carey Sublette and can be further accessed at their site, Nuclear Weapons FAQ.

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Cover Photo Credit: Pavel Kazachkov/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Millennial Intelligencer: Why Syria Won’t Be Putin’s Vietnam

It is clear that the Russian military is willing to engage in a more aggressive way in Syria- a region that has long been considered important for the former superpower.

The Russians have fielded about 30 fixed wing aircraft, primarily SU-25 Frogfoots, and SU-24 Fencers, as well as 20 Mi-24s. This is further complimented by cruise missile strikes, and a detachment of Marines to defend Russian facilities. In short, that’s a lot of fire power that the Russians seem more than willing to commit to a protracted conflict in the Middle East.

The Russian Army, like it’s forbearer the Red Army, is often both grossly overestimated and underestimated. One either conceives dastardly “little green men”, or a lumbering brute itching to lob it’s surplus T-62s at Estonia. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Taking into account the likelihood of Russians being killed in Syria, be it an Mi-24 knocked out by MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense System), or the recent tragic deaths of three Russians in an artillery attack, some have suggested that the Kremlin has fumbled into a scenario akin to the American experience in the Vietnam War.

While it is not out of the realm of possibility that Moscow may be forced to further invest into Syria to prop up the floundering Assad Regime in response to the continued civil war and threat from ISIS, Moscow must also be aware of its own very real limitations.

The Russian Army, like it’s forbearer the Red Army, is often both grossly overestimated and underestimated. One either conceives dastardly “little green men”, or a lumbering brute itching to lob it’s surplus T-62s at Estonia. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Whilst Soviet/Russian equipment has held a number of qualitative advantages over NATO equipment (including purportedly “invincible” American assets) during the Cold War and to this day, the Russians have consistently been inferior in both training and Command & Control (C&C). The former is due to the Russians utilizing a conscript system. This means that the Russian government drafts young men for a year at a time to serve, and then they are sent on their way.

This includes the three months of training for soldiers, and contributes to questionable quality. Recognizing this for some time, the Kremlin has been attempting to phase out the conscript model, in favor of the “contract” or professional model, in which soldiering is a job.

While contract soldiers are better both logistically and in terms of quality than conscripts, only 200,000 solders out of 774,500 (and 1,000,000 requested, unmet due to draft dodgers) are contract soldiers. This also includes 220,000 officers, leaving 354,500 conscripts. When cutting those professional forces between Ukraine and Syria, Moscow does not have a large margin of error.

Syria acts as Russia’s only port in the Mediterranean Sea, and is thus a vital asset to power projection. However, the Russians must further enhance their contract soldier system to stay competitive for long term operations. Thus, it seems unlikely that Moscow intends to prop up the Assad government as fervently as the United States did South Vietnam.

Russia’s intervention into Syria comes not from a position of strength, but one of weakness, due to diplomatic isolation and a overly long campaign in Ukraine. It seems more likely that Mr. Putin is trying to gain support for rapprochement, in exchange for a show of force against ISIS. If that is the objective, it’s working.

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? (No matter how big or small!) Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. 

Cover Photo Credit: Mikhail Kamarov/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

In The Neighborhood: Bashar Al-Assad makes Surprise Trip to Moscow

For the first time since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a visit to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin. But this time, it was a bit of a surprise, for the US anyway.

Assad flew to Moscow on Tuesday to personally to thank President Putin for Russia’s ongoing military support. The Syrian leader said that Russia’s involvement has stopped “terrorism” from becoming “more widespread and harmful” in Syria.

The Kremlin has stated that it had invited President Assad to visit Moscow, but kept the visit quiet until Wednesday morning when President Assad returned safely to Damascus.

While in Moscow, three rounds of talks were held between Assad and the Russian leadership. The first was a closed meeting between Assad and Putin alone, and the other two included the Russian Foreign and Defense Ministers.

President Putin told Assad that it was his hope that progress on the military front would soon into movement toward a peaceful political solution to the Syrian Civil War.

The Kremlin is likely to use the visit to reinforce its domestic narrative that the intervention in Syria is just and has been effective at fighting the expansion of terrorism throughout the region. Moscow maintains that its intervention in Syria was a common sense move that was designed to roll back international terrorism as a result of what it says is ineffective action from the United States.

Putin has remained hesitant about sending Russian ground forces for fear of an entanglement similar to the Soviet incursion in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Russia has a combined force of around 50 jets and helicopters inside of Syria protected by Russian marines, as well as military advisers working with the Syrian army. Russian officials claim to have flown over 700 sorties against more than 690 targets in Syria since the air campaign began Sept. 30.

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? (No matter how big or small!) Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. 

Cover Photo Credit: Alberto Cabello/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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