With reports that Russia is apparently poised to expand its military operation in Syria by deploying additional 120 combat aircraft to the war-torn country, Moscow wants to turn the already volatile situation in Syria into chaotic mess.
“The Russians are operating helicopters out of Shayrat airport, but they are making [preparations] to land fixed-wing aircraft,” a U.S. official told Fox News, according to National Interest.
The U.S. official added that Russia’s decision is not a defensive move to disperse its forces across Syria, but rather it’s a military expansion of Russia’s might in the region. “This is an expansion, not a defensive move at all,” the U.S. official said. At least two other reports from the U.K., which has launched its first airstrikes in Syria on Thursday, confirm a large expansion of Russia’s military presence in the region.
The Russians are operating out of four bases in Syria, including Hama, Tiyas and Hmeymim. The bases at Hama and Tiyas are home to Russia’s advanced attack helicopters such as the Mi-24 Hind, with some reports indicating that the bases also house the Kamov Ka-52 and Mil Mi-28.
But Russia’s new base at Shayrat, which is about to be 100 percent completed, will include 45 solid aircraft shelters. According to an anonymous British defense official, the base will also feature a main runway and a three-kilometer backup runway, as reported by the Express.
Confusion in Syria’s airspace could trigger war
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin is also poised to expand Russia’s presence in Syria by sending more than 100 additional combat aircraft to the region, according to a report published by The Times of London.
If the reports are confirmed by the Kremlin, the deployment of over 100 additional combat aircraft to Syria will bring even more confusion in Syria’s airspace. Especially given the fact that on Thursday morning, Britain has joined U.S.-led coalition’s air campaign in the war-torn country and has already launched its first deadly airstrikes.
Russia and the U.S.-led coalition has not yet fully coordinated their actions in Syria’s airspace, which creates a great risk of a possible military encounter between American, French, or British, for that matter, aircraft and Russia’s fighter jets.
And Turkey – a NATO member state – has already sampled what it’s like to be responsible for downing a Russian fighter jet in an incident that could easily be avoided.
Last week, the Turkish military shot down a Russian warplane, triggering a furious response from Moscow and escalating the already hot tensions between NATO and Russia. With Putin warning NATO of “serious consequences,” analysts believe the Kremlin has every reason to unleash a nuclear war over the incident.
Russia to use 120 aircraft in Syria to destroy Turkey?
While Turkey claims the Russian warplane violated Turkish airspace, and the Russians insisting it was flying over the Syrian territory, Moscow has immediately responded by deploying of sophisticated S-400 air defense systems to Syria. The S-400s’ large tubular launchers and associated radar and command vehicles are reportedly already stationed at the Russian base.
Moreover, Moscow enabled its warplanes operating in Syria to carry air-to-air missiles, while the Russian warship Moskva has been moved closer to the Syrian coast in order to enable its air defense missiles to provide additional cover over the Russian air base near Latakia.
Analysts of Russia & India Report note that despite the fact that Turkey is supposed to be protected by NATO’s 5th Article, Ankara could find itself all alone in an imminent war with Russia.
While in theory the U.S. and all other NATO member states are treaty-bound to come to Turkey’s defense in case of war with Russia, the chances that the Americans would be willing to risk New York for Ankara are “smaller than small,” the report noted, as reported by ValueWalk on Thursday.
Why crazy Putin failed in Syria, and it’s now official
Putin’s military operation in Syria turns out to be a failure. After two months of Russia’s constant airstrikes in the region, it’s time to do the math, according to Thomas L. Friedman, an author of an op-ed published in The New York Times.
When the Russian President first announced he was setting up an air base in Syria to destroy ISIS militants and bolster the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, numerous analysts and politicians called him “crazy like a fox,” and some of them thought we has simply “crazy,” according to Friedman.
“Well, two months later, let’s do the math: So far, Putin’s Syrian adventure has resulted in a Russian civilian airliner carrying 224 people being blown up, apparently by pro-ISIS militants in Sinai. Turkey shot down a Russian bomber after it strayed into Turkish territory,” Friedman wrote in the article.
The author also reminded of Syrian rebels killing one of the pilots as he parachuted from the fighter jet as well as one of the Russian marines sent to rescue him. Meanwhile, a vast number of U.S.-backed anti-Assad rebels in Syria are ethnic Turkmens with strong cultural ties to Turkey. And Turkey was not exactly happy with Putin dropping bombs on Turkmen villages inside Syria, because it weakens Turkey’s ability to shape Syria’s future, according to Friedman.
To sum up Putin’s “crafty Syrian chess move,” Russia has gotten a lot more dead Russians; Russia is at odds with both Turkey and Iran; Russia has weakened its positions in Ukraine, while Putin is acting as the “defense lawyer” for Assad, “a mass murderer of Sunni Muslims,” the author wrote.