Victoria Nuland has accused Russia of artillery deployment in two Syrian provinces. At the same time, an array of media sources are reporting a two-fold increase in Russian military forces, and that Buk anti-aircraft missiles were sent to the Syrian Republic as artillery cover for Russia’s airbase. What does this mean?
In the past few days, the American media have suddenly become packed with reports from “anonymous sources” or “sources close to the intelligence community” on the quantity, quality and structure of the distribution of Russian forces within Syria. At times, this wording is all it takes for people to believe the information that follows.
However, the era when the American media had real sources from intelligence agencies or those close to them ended back in the days of Bob Woodword and Carl Bernstein. Back then, the behavior of those sources was determined only by their political or aesthetic position and never by government interests. And right now, real sources are basically nonexistent. The word “source” is only a euphemism for the articulation of some government department’s stance, which is always beyond reproach — the press does its best to keep one step behind the interests of its government.
Even so, evaluating all these reports as sources of information would be strange if one didn’t keep in mind the context in which the information is presented.
The number of Russian troops in Syria has grown because practicality demands it. The activity and diplomatic status of the troops are the result of a bilateral agreement between Russia and Syria, which is being kept secret because its details can’t be made accessible to the public. In general, such agreements don’t initially set a maximum or minimum number of troops, nor rules about what types of forces are allowed, since the operations in question aren’t concrete or defined. Only time will tell how many and what type of troops will participate by lawful agreement in military activity on foreign soil.
While Ms. Nuland talks about Russian artillery in Hama and Homs, the American media reports on Russia making moves “outside its pen” — anywhere away from the Khmeimim airbase and a few other places where its troops are mainly situated. And so what? No one agrees with the United States on the number of garrisons that are in Khmeimim, and frequent deployment requires a steady supply of replacement vehicles and personnel. Yes, security has been ramped up at all the bases because the terrorist threat is only growing larger. Here, we aren’t talking about the situation on the front line, but rather terrorist attacks, which can be carried out by suicide bombers or infiltrating agents. It would be bizarre to suggest that the Russians were going to view this risk calmly and stand around waiting.
The general point of these jabs against Russia is to discredit the operation in Syria with elaborate technical precision. The [Russian] operation’s effectiveness raises a real problem for the United States: Now, it has to somehow justify a whole year of inaction. And from this, we get a completely natural reaction: Russia isn’t succeeding in Syria either; it needs reinforcements; therefore, we’re not such big idiots after all.
It’s not so much part of an information war as it is a system of self-defense. The American strategy, in essence, rests on image-building: We are the unique superpower capable of providing you with security. And suddenly, it becomes unexpectedly clear that this is not entirely true — or rather that it’s completely false. The U.S. is neither unique nor capable. The military elements with which (and with which alone) the U.S. recently controlled (or rather, ruined) situations in difficult regions have ceased to be the only instruments for solving these problems. And now, there’s someone else who can do it better. How can it tolerate this?
The real world events in Syria at the moment have already reached a new level, taking on a look from the fifth season of “Homeland,” and in practice, Washington is just trying to somehow involve itself in a military event the likes of which it hasn’t participated in since the Spanish-American War, which established the U.S. as a superpower.
Considering this, the American intelligence community’s defamation of the Russian operation in Syria is being carried out in an entirely straightforward, if not to say clumsy manner. There isn’t any kind of evidence for civilian losses. No one can provide the coordinates of the hospital that supposedly, according to fake “civil society” organizations, was bombed by Russian planes.
The next step is to point out Russia’s military casualties to the world, and if there aren’t any serious losses (as indeed there aren’t), talk about more troops coming in because current forces “can’t handle it.”
We can even say we agree that at first, there weren’t enough troops. But that’s a normal situation, not, as Nuland supposes, a critical one. And at the same time, Russia has already done noticeably more than the American coalition did in a year. It’s also possible that Russian artillery is in fact turning up on the Syrian front, and that the agreement with Damascus about mutual aid allows for such measures. But the sale of weapons to unlawfully armed organizations, which the American administration is actually participating in as a part of its never-ending support for the “moderate opposition,” is an absolutely criminal practice.
So let’s review. The growth of Russian forces in Syria, if it’s actually taking place at all, may have arisen because of mutual agreements and practical necessity. But Nuland doesn’t have any understanding of practicality. After all, from her perspective, it only took a couple of cookies to secure Ukraine’s transition to democracy. We can see how that ended.
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