Both here and in the comments section at the Unz Review, I am noticing a steady stream of hostile comments directed at those who, like Rambo and myself, who are urging caution and realism about the entire Russian operation in Syria. A week ago I felt compelled to post a rant entitled “answer to a disappointed reader” but apparently, this was not enough. So today I want to share with you some of the views of Konstantin Sivkov whose credentials are, I hope, impressive enough for everybody:
Konstantin Sivkov: Doctor of Military Sciences, the first vice–president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, a military expert. He was born in 1954. In 1976 he graduated from the Naval College. He served in the Navy. He graduated from the Military Medical Academy. In 1992 he graduated from the Academy of the General Staff. From 1995 to 2007 he served in the General Staff of the Armed Forces. A specialist in the field of military political science. He participated in the development of doctrinal documents determining the development and use of the Armed Forces.
Good enough? He was recently interviewed by Svobodnaia Pressa (free press). I hope to bring you the full text of the interview in the next couple of days. In the meantime, here are some of the highlights of what Sivkov had to say:
- The Syrian Army offensive has grinded to a halt
- In several locations Daesh successfully counter-attacked
- The airbase at Latakia is maxed out or will very soon be
- The Russians are not providing close air support, but only strikes on operational-level fixed targets
- There are signs that the Syrian military is running out of ammunition
- The USA are supplying Daesh with ammunition to compensate for the ammo dumps destroyed by Russian airstrikes
- Russia will probably have to engage long-range aviation to compensate for the small number of aircraft in Lakatia
- The Russian flotilla in the Caspian has used up almost all its cruise missiles
- Dash forces are commanded by very skilled officers from the ex-Iraqi army
- Russia needs either another airfield in Syria or, better, the agreement of the Iranians to let the Russian deploy more or less 120-130 aircraft on Iranian airfields
- The Russian force in Latakia is very vulnerable and the base will have to be urgently reinforced
Sivkov said many more interesting things, but I will wait for the translation before commenting on them. My point is that we most stop the stupid flag waving under the pretext that we are pro-Russian or pro-Syrian! The Russian operation so far has been very successful, but the fact remains that the Syrian offensive is stalling. Yes, the performance of Russian pilots has been superb, but the Russian force in Syria is so small that it cannot, at this point in time, break Daesh’s defenses. Why? Because there are not enough aircraft to do bombing on operational level targets (command posts, ammo dumps, infrastructure) and close air support.
Guys, please make no mistake, the Russians are very good, yes, but their operation is extremely daring, dangerous and difficult and, as for right now, the deciding factor is not the Russians in the skies, but the Syrians on the ground and they are having serious difficulties: several successful counter-attacks by Daesh have prevented the Syrian forces from concentrating on key offensive directions and, instead, they had to move elsewhere to stop the advance of Daesh. In other words, the initial plan has failed. Yes, Russia has options, especially if the Iranians give their full support, but right now the situation is very difficult.
At the end of the day, I suppose that it all boils down to this: do we trust Putin and the men around him. I do. Completely. But all that flag-waving and high-fiving is totally premature and, frankly, indecent. Just in the last couple of days, an Iranian general and a senior Hezbollah commander have died and the best way to honor them is not to act like Dubya did and not to declare “mission accomplished” when there is a long and hard struggle ahead. The best way to honor these men is to recognize the heroic nature and great difficulty of their struggle.
Right now, it could go either way. In theory, Daesh could break under pressure and basically collapse. This is possible, but this is not what I expect will happen. I expect Daesh to show flexibility and adapt to the new environment at which point the Russians will have to bring in more forces (although a Russian ground offensive is not on the table). As for the Iranians, they cannot afford to allow Daesh to prevail, so if the Syrian military continues to be over-extended and lacking supplies, they will have to move in. If that happens, the Americans and their Arab stooges in the region will go ballistic. So make no mistake, there next couple of weeks will be extremely dangerous.
In conclusion, here below is some recent footage of a Russian SU-30SM meeting a US MQ-9 Reaper drone over Syria. I expect a lot of that will be happening in the near future. So let’s quit the stupid flag-waving!