(Questions from Sputnik in italics)
With the upcoming anniversary, how should we assess the effectiveness of Russian military operations in Syria? What has been effective? And what has not?
The Russian operation in Syria, like all intelligent uses of violence, has been a military-diplomatic operation. The military/violence part has been generally successful – Palmyra and soon-to-be-Aleppo liberations sum up the difference on the ground – but the diplomatic part has been much less so. The Saker says that Moscow now regards Washington as недоговороспособны or not capable of making an agreement. This appears to be the case: immediately after the US Secretary of State negotiated a cessation of hostilities, the US military attacked the Syrian Army. (Another “regretful” error from “the greatest military in the history of the world“.) Really? Who is in charge in Washington? Who can deliver? Clearly, at the moment, no one. I think Moscow has given up negotiating with a “partner” that cannot (or will not) deliver and decided for a military solution. Then, when the “facts on the ground” have been changed, diplomacy can resume. If possible.
Why US military command started saying that Russia became a serious military threat? What changes in Russian military caused this? What types of weapons became a matter of US concern?
With my military and Cold War experience, I would note these things in my list of things-not-expected.
- The very thought that relatively insignificant boats in the Caspian Sea could affect events a thousand kilometres or more away was a complete stunner.
- I don’t think anyone in the Pentagon thought the Russian Aerospace Forces could maintain the sortie rate that they have.
- The transformation of “dumb bombs” into “smart bombs” clearly surprised the Americans as shown by the fact that they accused the Russians of indiscriminately bombing (although a thoughtful person would have understood that you don’t “indiscriminately bomb” with three bombs.)
- The Americans seem to be stunned with Russian jamming and EW capabilities – we’ve had whines about “A2/AD bubbles” from some of the (formerly) aggressive NATO generals.
- We haven’t seen it in action yet, but the S-300/400/500 series seems to be a major off-stage frightener.
- Then there were the impressive stunts like the “White Swan” strike from the Kola Peninsula, or the Kalibr cruise missile strikes from the super-silent Varshavyanka submarines in the Med. Obviously intended to keep NATO jumpy: we can hit you anywhere, any time.
- And, of course, the speed and decisiveness with which the Russians moved.
So, altogether, it’s not surprising that even former NATO commander Breedlove thinks the Russian Armed Forces are pretty formidable.
How have the Russian operations compared with US anti-IS operations? Both in tactics and weapons?
As to how Russian operation compare with US operations, who better to answer than “a commander of the al-Qaida branch ‘Jabhat al-Nusra‘” who tells us “Yes, the U.S. support the opposition, but not directly.” For years now, Washington has thought it could turn jihadists on and off as it willed. Even one of the creators of the policy, Graham Fuller, doubts the wisdom of this today. Russia is consistent.
How US and Russia could cooperate militarily if politicians reach an agreement?
If. If. If they could agree on who the enemy was.
But is the USA недоговороспособны or договороспособны?