THE RUSSIAN MILITARY will now be given full use of a Cypriot airbase and the main port at Limassol.
According to the Ministry of Defence in Nicosia the use of the Andreas Papandreou airbase will be only used for ‘emergency scenarios’ and humanitarian missions, but the move highlights growing co-operation between Russia and Cyprus.
As it stands, a Russian presence in the region is only made possible by the survival of the Assad government, with Moscow still hanging on to their personnel from the naval base in Tartus. Continue reading
Russian naval vessels in the Mediterranean are capable of reacting to an escalation in the Syria conflict, a military source said Wednesday, as Moscow fine tunes its maritime presence ahead of possible US military action.
“Today we consider our presence in the eastern Mediterranean to be sufficient to solve the tasks. If necessary, together with submarine forces, they (the ships) are capable even today of influencing a military situation,” a general staff source told the Interfax news agency. Continue reading
Deputy Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Gholam-Reza Khadem Bigham says Iran will continue dispatching more naval fleets to Russia.
Khadem on Saturday pointed to the recent dispatch of an Iranian naval fleet to the Russian port city of Astrakhan and said, “We should expect the continuation of the process and the sending of other naval groups.” Continue reading
LARNARCA, Cyprus, June 24 (UPI) — Financially strapped Cyprus is looking at allowing Russian military aircraft to use an airbase in Paphos, the country’s defense minister said this weekend.
Cypriot Defense Minister Fotis Fotiu told the Nicosia daily Fileleftheros the country was “studying the possibility of providing in certain cases” the use of the Andreas Papandreou Air Force Base for Russian military aircraft. Continue reading
CNN has learned that U.S. intelligence agencies have identified three Russian amphibious warships in the eastern Mediterranean that are believed to be carrying weapons shipments that might be used to resupply the Syrian regime, according to a Pentagon official.
The United States has been tracking the ships since they left Russian ports several days ago. U.S. satellites were able to see some indications of containers being loaded onto the ships. Although it’s not confirmed, it’s believed the ships may be carrying some components of the controversial Russian S-300 air defense missile system and other weapons for the regime. Continue reading
President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation has drawn a line in the sand over Syria, the government of which he is determined to protect from overthrow. Not since the end of the Cold War in 1991 has the Russian Bear asserted itself so forcefully beyond its borders in support of claims on great power status. In essence, Russia is attempting to play the role in Syria that France did in Algeria in the 1990s, of supporting the military government against rebels, many of them linked to political Islam. France and its allies prevailed, at the cost of some 150,000 dead. Can Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pull off the same sort of victory?
Even as Damascus pushes back against the rebels militarily, Putin has swung into action on the international and regional stages. The Russian government persuaded U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to support an international conference aimed at a negotiated settlement. Putin upbraided Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his country’s air attacks on Damascus. Moscow is sending sophisticated anti-aircraft batteries, anti-submarine missiles and other munitions to beleaguered Assad, and has just announced that 12 Russian warships will patrol the Mediterranean. The Russian actions have raised alarums [sic] in Tel Aviv and Washington, even as they have been praised in Damascus and Tehran. Continue reading
From the state-owned (FSB/KGB) propaganda outlet, RIA Novosti:
MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti) – Two warships of Russia’s Black Sea fleet joined the country’s Mediterranean task force on Monday, a spokesman for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Capt. First Rank Vyacheslav Trukhachyov, has said. Continue reading
When Angela Merkel – to cut out the middlemen – feels entitled to arrest the bank accounts of individuals and institutions in another country and help herself to 10 per cent of their deposits, then the rule of law has become a folk memory in German-occupied Europe. Is this what was meant by negative interest rates? The sheer irresponsibility of risking a bank run, not just in Cyprus but potentially in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and everywhere else the dominoes might topple, betrays the stupidity of those shoring-up the deluded euro project. Continue reading
Russia has been a close ally of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad and has strategic and economic interests in the country.
The Defense Ministry said the landing ships Kaliningrad and Alexander Shabalin are en route to the region from the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. Two other big landing ships, the Saratov and the Azov, are scheduled to join them by the end of February. Continue reading
Russian warships set out Tuesday, Dec. 18, for two Middle East flashpoint destinations: Naval sources in Moscow reported that two assault ships, a tanker and an escort vessel were detached from the Baltic Fleet and are sailing for the Syrian port of Tartus – possibly to evacuate Russian citizens. A second naval group led by Russia’s largest anti-submarine vessel, the Severomorsk, is on its way to the Gulfs of Aden and Oman close to the Persian Gulf and Iran. Continue reading
Russian warships docked at a naval base in Syria, according to reports on Wednesday, further separating Moscow from Western actions in the war-torn country.
The two ships made a rare call at the port in Tartus, Russia’s only remaining international military base since the Soviet Union collapsed, according to AFP and Interfax reports. Russian authorities claim the stop was only to load fuel and water and make “minor repairs.” This is the second time the Russian Navy has raised eyebrows in recent weeks, following reports that it docked warships off the coast of Gaza in late November, during the height of the fighting there with Israel. Continue reading
Russian, Western and Arab forces were piling up on Syrian borders Wednesday, July 25, bringing closer a war confrontation which could spur the Assad regime into making good on its threat to use chemical weapons against “external aggression.”
Based on this reading, Moscow added its voice Tuesday to that of US President Obama and warned Bashar Assad against using chemical weapons in view of “its commitments under the international convention it ratified prohibiting the use of poisonous gases as a method of warfare.”
debkafile’s military sources: With operational intelligence deployment and electronic stations positioned inside Syria, the Russians are better placed than any other outsiders to know what is happening on Syria’s battlefields.
Their warning must therefore be tied to solid information confirming Washington’s assessment that Assad is dangerously close to deciding to use his chemical and biological weapons in a way that would precipitate a regional conflict.
Israel, Turkey and Jordan would be the first targets on his list.
The immediacy of the peril, debkafile’s military sources report, has speeded the arrival of Russian warships to Syria to counter a potential Western, Arab or Israeli assault on the embattled country.
The Russian Ministry of Defense, which rarely discloses Russian military movements outside its borders, announced early Wednesday morning, July 25 that a fleet of Russian warships had passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean.
The fleet is headed by the anti-submarine and anti-aircraft Admiral Chabanenko warship and consists of another three vessels carrying a large number of Russian marines. This fleet will rendezvous with a Russian flotilla standing by in the Mediterranean since July 21, detached from Russian Black Fleet and composed of the Smetlivy figate and two large landing craft loaded with Russian marines. This group awaited the main force before approaching Syria.
The fact that Russia is massing large numbers of marines off the Syrian coast looks as though a landing on Syrian soil is on Moscow’s cards.
The Russian marine contingent, debkafile’s sources say, will stand ready – either to come to the aid of the Assad regime or to serve as a bargaining chip for a last-minute deal between Moscow and Washington for ending the war by establishing a transitional military regime in Damascus whose makeup would be agreed between them and Assad.
Deputy Iranian Revolutionary GuardUS President Obama chief, Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, warned on Tuesday, July 24, that Tehran would not permit regime change in Damascus and if Syria’s enemies intervened, Iran would hit them hard. The Iranian commander pointed a finger at Saudi Arabia and Qatar, adding that the US and Israel are at the forefront of the comprehensive campaign against Syria but are being beaten back.
This was the first time Tehran had explicitly threatened military intervention in Syria.
Wednesday, Turkey shut its border crossings to Syria. Military sources in Ankara confirmed that massive Turkish military strength had been on the move toward the Syrian border.
Full article: Big Russian fleet nears Syria. Iran to fight regime change as foreign forces pile up (DEBKAfile)
NATO, which proclaims non-involvement in the Syrian conflict, and Russia, which vows to block foreign military action against the Assad regime, are both moving large naval forces into the eastern Mediterranean opposite Syrian shores.
A flotilla of at least 11 Russian warships has been detached from Caspian Sea, Black Sea and North Sea fleet bases and is on its way to the Syrian coast for a maneuver; NATO has consigned its rapid response Maritime Group 2 to the same stretch of sea – where also five Israeli warships are deployed. The Western alliance has also increased surveillance flights over the Mediterranean from the Geilenkirchen air base in Germany.
This rush of military movements is explained officially by the big air-and-sea exercise launched by Syria Sunday, July 8, to simulate outside aggression. It follows Iran’s practice of continuous military drills for repelling mock Western or Israel attacks.
While these coordinated maneuvers are being presented as designed to fend off foreign intervention in the Syrian conflict, our sources report that they are in fact preparing for a potential US attack on Iran’s nuclear program, which is now expected in Gulf and European military quarters to take place in October, three months hence.
High-ranking Saudi princes associated with their national military and intelligence agencies frankly confided to Arab and Western officials on recent visits to Riyadh that the US and, possibly Israel too, are on the verge of war on Iran. “It is already decided,” they say. The only question still open is the date, which could be before or after the US presidential election on November 6.
Full article: NATO, Russian naval-air buildup in E. Mediterranean, French units to Gulf (DEBKAfile)
The Merchant Ship Alaed, was stopped about fifty miles off the Northern coast of Scotland in the Morning hours of June 19th. Her cargo was a number of refurbished Mi-24 helicopter gunships which were embarked in the Kaliningrad Oblast of the Russian Federation, bound for the Syrian Port of Tartus. The Ship’s insurance company known as “The Standard Club” had suspended the ship’s insurance coverage preventing her from docking or mooring in any reputable port. In effect, the transaction was halted. But the temporary halt to a contentious arms transfer begs an examination of the motives of those involved, and raises questions of the US response to the entire situation especially in view of recent news of Russian Warships preparing to sail to the Syrian Port of Tartus.
Daily, news reaches US television and print about the dire situation in Syria where a minority-run government is fighting a brutal counter insurrection against its own people. The regime has observed few taboos of war in putting down the civil strife, including the use of artillery and airstrikes in dense urban areas. The methods and ammunition in question are inaccurate and result in heavy collateral damage. Hence, the nature of this effort could not reasonably be construed as measured or surgical; it is campaign to pacify by terror through the indiscriminate use of lethal force.
Moral clarity would demand that this is a compelling case for intervention by western powers. Things quickly get complicated on examining the world politics of the Syrian Situation. Syria remains the only dedicated friend to two players in the region who are under siege. Iran is the primary benefactor of the Assad regime and is rightly singled out for being so. Iran needs to maintain a friendly umbilical cord to their lackeys in neighboring Lebanon known to most as the terrorist group Hezbollah. Support for Hezbollah is critical to maintaining Iranian standing among anti-American political forces in the region. Further, one need not look beyond a map of the Middle East to see that, in the long time rivalry between Iraq and Iran, Syria would make a steadily modernizing military like Iraq think twice about any sudden aggression with hostile neighbors to the east and the west. Hence a warm relationship with Syria provides leverage for an increasingly isolated Iran.
But as a key player, Russia too has a great deal to lose and significantly more resources to be made available to the Assad regime. Many pundits of Middle East politics observe that the Assad regime is the only friend left for Russia in the region. Syria hosts a Russian radar base which, according to a February 29th article in the Washington Times, underwent significant upgrades. Similarly, the Port of Tartus hosts a Russian Naval contingent which hosts occasional show of force visits by the Russian Navy. The significance of these installations in Syria cannot be understated.
The Russian government seeks to gain much information on the operations of NATO along its southern tier. NATO air bases in Turkey are a hub of logistical activity for forces flowing into Central Asia and the Middle East. The ability to gain real-time information on the size and scope of air activity there, as well as the deployments of US aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean, would be a valuable tool to understanding NATO operations and therefore intentions.
In view of the discovery of a potential energy/political game changer, it makes eminent sense for the Russian government to attempt to preserve its position with respect to port access so close to the new natural gas field. Although a number of other matters factor into their relationship, this is a key driver for Russian support of the Assad regime.
Full article: Crackdown in Syria, and the Roads that Lead to Moscow (Family Security Matters)
Announcing he is not responsible for the safety of UN observers on their way to Syria if they don’t obey his rules, President Bashar Assad has set in motion steps for prolonging his war on the Syrian people rather than abiding by a truce. debkafile discloses he offered Moscow and Beijing $30 billion worth of government bonds for a massive injection of funds to replenish his depleted war chest.
And at the UN Security Council, while Russia’s Vitaly Churkin in a surprise turnabout voted with the West on a UN observer team to secure the Syrian ceasefire, Moscow quietly sent warships to Syrian shores to secure the Assad regime.
The heaviest outlay for keeping the massive Syrian war machine turning over is on fuel. Countless tanks, self-propelled artillery, thousands of trucks and tank transporters are constantly on the move from one rebel flashpoint to another, reinforcing embattled units and ferrying troops, equipment and ammunition.
Full article: Assad offers Moscow, Beijing bonds worth $30bn. Russian warships off Syria (DEBKAfile)