The battles in N. Syria will determine the fate of the peace process

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The US-Russian plan, approved by the UN Security Council as the lever for activating a political process towards ending the five-year Syrian war, can only go so far towards its objectives. The process is not capable of halting the fighting or removing Bashar Assad from power; just the reverse: progress in the talks is heavily dependent on the state of play on the battlefields of the north while the Syrian dictator’s ouster is a fading issue.

The limitations and obstacles facing the UN-endorsed US-Russian plan are summed up here by debkafile’s analysts:

1. The understanding reached by the Obama administration and the Kremlin in the past month was first conceived as a stopgap measure. It was never intended to bring the calamitous Syrian war to an end or remove Assad, but rather to provide a pretext to account for the expansion of Russia’s ground operation and gloss over America’s military deficiencies in the Syrian conflict. Taking it as carte blanche from Washington, President Vladimir Putin felt able to announce Saturday, Dec. 19, that “the Russian armed forces have not employed all of their capability in Syria and may use more military means there if necessary.”  Continue reading

400 US mercenaries ‘deployed on ground’ in Ukraine military op

From the state-owned (FSB/KGB) Russian propaganda outlet:

About 400 elite mercenaries from the notorious US private security firm Academi (formerly Blackwater) are taking part in the Ukrainian military operation against anti-government protesters in southeastern regions of the country, German media reports.

The Bild am Sonntag newspaper, citing a source in intelligence circles, wrote Sunday that Academi employees are involved in the Kiev military crackdown on pro-autonomy activists in near the town of Slavyansk, in the Donetsk region. Continue reading