An armed escalation around Idlib, in which both the Syrian and Turkish sides, and Russia have already been tightly bogged down, the level of a local clash is growing before our eyes, threatening not today or tomorrow to turn into a war of at least regional, or even global scale. Aircraft shot down in the Syrian sky, an attack on Russian journalists and their detention in Ankara, the fleet of warships pulling into the Mediterranean Sea ...
Everything indicates that this time things are more than serious and, most importantly, the situation is absolutely not in a way favorable for our country. It's time to try to look for honest answers to questions about why this happened. What and when did Russia do wrong, essentially, having driven itself into a trap?
Lack of a coherent strategy
Successfully launching a war and brilliantly conducting the first stage of the campaign, after which it seems to be won, is far from easy. However, the entire military history of the world convincingly indicates that it is often no less difficult to maintain and develop the success achieved. Without a carefully thought-out and balanced strategy to consolidate their gains, victory can easily “leak through your fingers”, like the hot sand of the Syrian deserts. At the end of 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the mission in this country was completed by our military, the situation in the country to which we provided assistance at the request of its legitimate government was stabilized. Syria is “saved as a state”, and most of the Russian expeditionary force can return home with honor and glory. These words, uttered at the main Syrian base of our air forces in Khmeimim, were to summarize their two-year war on the side of Damascus and mark themselves ... What ?! The answer to this question, in fact, "hung in the air." The farther, the more it became clear that the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria, as well as their maximum self-isolation in the same Khmeimim and Tartus, will inevitably lead to the return of the same bloody "status quo" from which, in fact, everything it began. The defeat of the “Islamic state” was an unconditional military success, however, it did not lead to a final political settlement in the country. Too many forces sought to seize power over Damascus and far from all of them appeared under the black flag of ISIS. In the very near future, it became clear that in the struggle to maintain real control over the situation in Syria, our country will have to face, first of all, the United States and its allies - clear and secret.
In fact, as a result, a strange and ambivalent situation arose: how successful almost all the military aspects of the “Syrian epic” were for Russia, so slurred, inconsistent and contradictory political side. Everything is clear with the army: during the campaign, about 70 thousand of our military personnel received invaluable combat experience, mostly officers. According to the head of the national defense department, Sergei Shoigu, about 370 samples of the latest, most modern and advanced Russian weapons were tested and tested in the theater of operations at the local theater of operations. Our country has received for 49 years the right to lease a port in Tartus and a significant expansion of this only today Russia's foreign military base. All these are undoubted advantages. However, either by its unwillingness, or by the fear of firmly and unequivocally identifying Syria as the territory of its sole military-political interests, Moscow allowed to turn this country into an arena of clash of various states and forces, today striving to create and defend their own “zones of influence” there . Moreover, periodically to settle scores among themselves, even on the officially controlled territory of Damascus, as Israel and Iran allow themselves. Trying to maintain equally equal and peaceful relations with a number of “players” in the Middle East, who are often direct antagonists of each other, Russian politicians have failed to create at least the “friend or foe” system that is clear and understandable not only for Damascus, but seems to be for themselves. The inability to firmly draw the “red lines” and set the boundaries beyond which the vital interests of Russia begins led to the fact that the Americans in Syria got oil fields, and we — the bloody “abscess” of Idlib ...
They beat us, and we grow stronger ...
The implementation at the first stage of practically all the tasks facing our country: holding in power the allied government of Bashar Assad, asserting the superiority of the Russian army in the effectiveness of actions against ISIS over the troops of the US-led Western coalition, demonstrating the potential and capabilities of Russian weapons over time came to naught. Than? Our obscure actions in critical situations that went beyond the framework of the Damascus-Terrorists paradigm, or even the complete absence of such, even when they were necessary. The United States twice - in April 2017 and, almost exactly a year later, allow themselves to launch massive missile attacks on Syria, and their coalition allies also take part in the shooting for the second time. Moscow is limited to statements made at the highest level that what is happening is an “act of aggression committed on a far-fetched pretext." And at the same time, it continues to cooperate and interact with the US military stationed in Syria. No real response is being taken. Yes, what happened was by no means a military catastrophe - there are no large-scale destruction, as well as mass casualties. However, our allies are being beaten, while we “keep proud patience”. This is the beginning of foreign policy disasters ... Looking at the completely unpunished actions of the Americans, the conclusions that “the Russians will not get involved” made the predators a smaller caliber. As it turned out, they were right. Having taken the fashion of piracy to Israel in the Syrian sky, its air raids got away with just like missile attacks to its overseas allies.
In many domestic media outlets (including on our website), the inaction of air defense systems, which, in fact, did nothing to stop the IDF air raids on Syrian territory, caused complete bewilderment, received a malicious name: "formidable silence." Even the tragic incident of September 18, 2018 did not change the situation, when it was during an attempt to repel another raid of Israeli vultures by the Syrian air defense that a Russian Il-20 was shot down, which led to the death of 15 of our servicemen. Not a single Israeli plane was forcibly "landed" by either our or the Syrian air defense. The S-300 and S-400 air defense systems continued to be “formidably silent,” and Tel Aviv continued to strike at its targets, as a maximum, periodically reducing the intensity of shelling and bombing, and conducting them from a distance that was safer for itself. Is it any wonder after that that in the current critical situation the IDF also did not stand aside? According to reports, his aircraft for the last time, on February 28, launched missile strikes not on "Iranian formations on Syrian territory", as it was usually announced, but directly on the positions of the SAA. However, the connivance of the extremely impudent actions of the Israeli military, caused by the unwillingness to quarrel with the official Tel Aviv, cannot be compared with those completely ill-considered actions that were carried out for years in relation to those who suddenly turned from our eternal enemies into almost "the first allies" on Middle East Turks. You can somehow understand the Kremlin's unwillingness to bring the conflict to a military confrontation after the incident with our Su-24 in 2015. But why did he create an additional problem for himself in Syria in the person of Erdogan with his own hands?
Ankara - “friend” with whom enemies are no longer needed
By definition, it was impossible to completely "cut off" Turkey from solving the Syrian problems. And it was probably not worth it, perhaps, to do it - at least as long as Ankara acted as a situational ally of Moscow, pursuing its goals of neutralizing the armed Kurdish formations supported by the United States, and more or less conscientiously participated in the fight against ISIS. Nevertheless, it should be clearly understood that the global claims of the Turkish leadership, especially Recep Erdogan, distinguished by distinct imperial ambitions, could turn out to be much more far-reaching than simply solving the "Kurdish issue". And so it turned out in the end. Today, Ankara no longer conceals its own desire to create in the north of Syria some kind of puppet enclave controlled by it, and even to the entry of this territory into Turkey. Seeing in Erdogan, who had suddenly "transformed" from loyal allies of the United States into an "implacable fighter against American imperialism" a convenient tool for weakening its geopolitical opponents in the Middle East, Moscow began to support the cunning Turkish king not only in the political plane, but also in economic and military. It was tempting to “tear” this country out of the F-35 program and sow discord in NATO. Just now, our military experts are wondering - when will the Triumphs delivered to Ankara begin to pose a threat to our aviation — in June, April, or even earlier? I don’t want to talk about the “tying up” of South Stream to Turkey, although it will have to be sooner or later ... But from a certain moment, it was already clear to many observers that Erdogan was playing his own game, in which he pursued exclusively his own interests.
How much has been said and written about the unacceptable rhetoric of high-ranking officials of Turkey regarding the Russian Crimea? About their increasingly intense flirtation with Kiev? About growing, by leaps and bounds, military-technical cooperation with Ukraine, carried out against the interests of Russia? They pretended that nothing like this was happening ... What to expect now? Turkish "peacekeepers" in Donbass? Not an excluded option. The appearance of Erdogan's soldiers on Syrian soil was no longer to fight terrorists, but as part of the "Olive Branch" and "Source of Peace" operations was, as it is now becoming quite obvious, only a test of strength, which, alas, was a success. The Russian side supported these actions as aimed at weakening the American positions in the country, completely forgetting about the saying about the appetite that "comes with eating." As a result, today we have a "Spring Shield", the operational plans of which, there is no doubt, were developed a long time ago. Now Erdogan publicly, literally to the whole world, demands that "Moscow go aside", leaving him "alone with Assad." The results of such an alignment are not difficult to predict, and, nevertheless, Ankara has enough insolence to loudly announce such unacceptable demands. Today, they again made another "change of shoes", instantly recalling membership in the North Atlantic Alliance and allied relations with Washington, which until recently was cursed with all its crust. The Turks, judging by their boastful and self-confident statements, are determined to fight "to the bitter end." And all because they were not put in place on time. Today Dmitry Peskov reminds the local politicians that, on a legal basis, only Russian troops are on the territory of Syria, and today they are invited to "get out" from there. The rest, in fact, are aggressors and occupiers. Everything is correct. But Ankara (and not only) should have been reminded of this much earlier. And so that it comes down.
Russia's withdrawal from Syria in the current situation will mean a complete and final defeat for our country, and, of course, not only in the Middle East. There is no doubt that the surrender of positions near Idlib will come back to haunt us from Venezuela to Crimea. What to do now, when the situation is on the brink of a big war? Let the Kremlin decide this. The only thing you can try to advise is not to repeat at least the mistakes already made.