This week Russia announced it would begin the withdrawal of some of its military forces from Syria catching many analysts by surprise. However, it appears the US military and intelligence community may have known in advance that this was going to occur because of a secretly brokered ceasefire deal between Moscow and the White House. On the surface, this appears to be a positive sign for all parties. Russia doesn’t get bogged down in Syria and it alleviates tensions in the region and the chances for a military miscalculation that could lead to a rapidly escalating war. Don’t be fooled. Russia just handed the US another major strategic defeat and most policy makers are too dumb to even realize it yet because they can’t think beyond the immediate.
As with most things in government, looks are deceiving and Putin is again laughing at the US as he readies for a potential war with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, while having forces close by in reserve if a spring offensive in the Ukraine is initiated. Not only did Putin just deal the US another major strategic policy defeat in the Middle East by destroying our terrorist proxy army built to remove Assad from power, but Putin managed to trick the amateur US “leadership” into believing he was actually pulling out of Syria. Putin isn’t stupid and is not about to sacrifice the hard won gains of the last few months in Syria. Instead, Putin masterfully set the stage to win concessions from the US respective of the ceasefire while only appearing to concede some ground on the military front. In fact Russia is only redeploying to a more advantageous position in the event a war breaks out with Turkey or the Ukraine, which was completely missed by both the US military and intelligence community. Not only is Russia leaving a robust footprint in Syria, but it is now taking the opportunity to redeploy forces to forward bases in Armenia on the Turkish border.
On a side note, for those of you that are about to email me to complain because you think that I am using hindsight to beat up on our analysts for not predicting a Russian pivot to Armenia, I would like to remind you that even as a dumb country boy, I was warning about this very predictable move over a year ago. I even went so far as to post a warning back on July 3, 2015 that Armenia was becoming a covert hotspot for the new Cold War and we needed to take notice because Russia was going to dig in there (see: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2015/07/03/flashpoint-armenia-why-you-should-care/).
Russia knows the big fight isn’t with proxy terrorist militias, but with Turkey and Saudi Arabia and has been adjusting its forces accordingly. Rather than having its military spread out and trying to hold vulnerable positions, Russia brilliantly flanked Turkey. In short, Turkey fell into its own trap by massing a large percentage of its military on its border with Syria in preparation for war with the Kurds, Syrian government forces, and the Russians. Turkey’s logic was simple. It could cut off Russian forces and drive them into the sea. However, now with Russian forces massed inside Armenia only 15 kilometers from the Turkish border and with a solid supply line back to Moscow, it is Ankara that has now found itself outflanked and vulnerable to being cut off. Ankara now faces a multi-front war if Erdogan decides to invade Syria. Turkey is now literally surrounded with the Syrians, Kurds, Iranians, Armenians, and Russians all enjoying home court advantage while the Turkish military is running around in circles trying to swat at all of them. I don’t expect the generals at the Pentagon or our appointees at the NSC to understand this, but should they desire an explanation, I would be happy to go into detail.
The bottom line is Russia is operating two or perhaps three steps ahead of US policy makers and our military leadership. Russia knows the Turks and Saudis are by no means finished with Syria and are looking for revenge. Russia isn’t waiting for them to get ready and instead is rapidly seizing the most advantageous strategic ground in preparation for this fight. Russia is clearly taking this fight seriously and acting accordingly while Washington is still drunk on hubris and has no idea what is brewing. My fear from the beginning of this is that we have long since passed the opportunity for peaceful de-escalation. The lull in the fighting is only a chance for the sides to consolidate and regroup, which based on military movements, leaves Russia with a major strategic advantage. When the next move is made, it will be Russia that is poised to deliver a decisive strategic knock-out blow, which most likely will not be to the benefit of the US. Consider the implications of this carefully as you monitory international developments and the status of your preps. Until next time….
By Guiles Hendrik
March 16, 2016