As you can see from the reader comments and Vince Dhimos' responses to them below, there is an issue with the term "S-600" used in the article by we translated for this site. We do not know of any reports on a S-600 and suspect this could be a typo for S-500, which seems more likely. We just don't know yet but will keep you updated. Thanks for reading.
Commentary and translation by NSS staff
It is well known in the West that Russia had warned the US, prior to Trump’s Tomahawk attack on Syria, not to hit Russian targets, and that should they do so, Russia would strike not only the incoming missiles but also the platforms from which they came. That would be in all likelihood ships or planes. Indeed the US and its two puppet states went out of their way to avoid Russian targets. This was a bit of a test to see if the US respected Russian firepower, and indeed it did. (big power and credible threats are all the US government understands, as expressed in our recent translation of a commentary by the political scientist Dr. Sergey Chernyakhovsky Dr. Sergey Chernyakhovsky).
You will have noticed that Russia has been slowly tightening the noose around the Western powers. They had long supplied Syria with air defences, older Soviet arms to be sure, but also some newer arms. But until very recently, the US played rough with Assad’s troops, occasionally killing some of them and then pretending it was an accident, once under Obama, at Deir ez-Zor, and then under Trump at al-Tanf. After Trump’s first attack on Shayrat air base, Putin tightened the noose a bit, sending in more air defence systems. After the second strike by the three hostile nations, Putin said he was “thinking about” sending in S-300s, very deadly surface to air missiles capable of knocking down planes hundreds of km away. When he made the decision, New Silk Strategies was one of the first news sites to report it, here. Each time a change is made in the Russian policy, it is on the heels of a new act of US aggression. Tit for tat. Hence, more psychologically acceptable.
Just now we learn that Russia has made another seemingly minor change in its policy. Whereas it once had warned that it would retaliate only against attacks in Syria that targeted Russian assets, it now warns that it will not allow the US to attack anywhere in Damascus or a suburb thereof, reminding that these areas are occupied by Russian personnel. Again, this is tit for tat, and follows on the heels of an irresponsible statement on the part of the lunatic holding the post of permanent representative for the US in the UN, Nikki Haley. Nikki had said that the US is mulling another strike on Syria. Putin has had enough, and now the noose is tightening again.
Putin is playing a psychological game, conditioning the US to accept an ever increasing load of pain. Sort of like applying an incrementally higher voltage to a lab animal to acclimate it. The US is now conditioned like a white rat to accept terms imposed by Russia. It is a matter of routine and Americans are getting used to it. Russia had also wisely sent a team of experts to E. Ghouta to the site of the alleged “chemical attack,” which turned out to be staged by the notorious White Helmets. The team rounded up 17 Syrians who had been present at the time the attack was staged. They sent these witnesses to a meeting of the OPCW in The Hague and they impressed the officials there. Particularly convincing was the testimony of a young boy who had been rounded up by the White Helmets to go with them to a hospital where the perfectly healthy lad was sprayed with water to simulate treatment for toxic gas exposure. These testimonies had a big impact not only on the officials there but also on the whole world, making Russia appear in a new light. This set the stage for the next twist in the noose.
We make no predictions, but it would not be surprising if eventually, as a result of some misstep by the US, Putin warned Israel and the US to keep hands off his Iranian partners in Syria. That would be a geopolitical seismic event.
Our translation follows.
What secret agreement did Putin and Assad make?
INOSMI, March 21, 2018
It seems obvious that in 2015 the Russian army saved the Syrian regime from attacks by the takfiri groups and the radical armed opposition. Russia also made great efforts to transport more than one hundred planes to the airbase in Khmeimim near Latakia on the Syrian coast, which made four thousand air raids a month. This is a record amount compared to the rest of the world.
Within two months, Russian aviation crushed a total of about 55-60% of strong points of radical Islamist forces, such as the Islamic State and Jabhat Al-Nusra (banned in the Russian Federation - ed.). Thanks to these operations, Syrian President Bashar Assad regained control over more than 60% of the Syrian territory (before that, he controlled only 17% of the territory, primarily Damascus and its suburbs, which Hezbollah and other major forces helped him retain).
Then, within the framework of the visit of Syrian President Bashar Assad to Russia, an agreement was announced between the countries, but none of its provisions are known to the public. Nor was it presented to the Russian government or the State Duma and remained a secret presidential agreement, given that Russia, like Syria (according to the Russian-Syrian constitution) is a presidential republic.
In accordance with this agreement, Syria provided the Air Force of Russia with an airbase in Khmeimim, completely liberating four million square meters of space and providing them to the Russian army for the construction of ammunition depots, and housing for pilots and engineers and about 2,500 soldiers who are called upon to defend the base against any attacks.
Then, within the framework of this presidential agreement, Syria provided Russia with a huge base in Tartus, where the Syrian naval forces were based, and which the Russian army has used at times. Thus, President Assad provided Russia with about 18 million square meters around the base to accommodate about 30,000 Russian soldiers, workshops, ammunition depots, spare parts for ships and everything else.
Russia has deployed 32 ships at the naval base and thus established its presence in the Mediterranean after being unable to do so for more than 50 years, since even Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser did not provide Russia with a naval base. Nor did former Syrian President Hafez Assad allow Russia to establish a naval or air base on Syrian territory, although the parties signed a bilateral strategic agreement on cooperation in the military area.
Further, Russia will receive a second air base not far from Damascus. It will become one of the largest Russian bases, where strategic aviation will be based along with about six thousand troops, in addition to 20,000 soldiers who will coordinate operations between the two airbases and the naval base and, if necessary, defend them in cooperation with the Syrian army.
US Representative to the UN: "We will bypass the Security Council and attack Damascus"
A few days ago, US Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley said that Washington will submit a draft resolution on a ceasefire in Syria, and if the Security Council does not approve it, the United States will act, bypassing the Security Council, and will directly strike Damascus and the Syrian army.
The Russian Ministry of Defence issued a return statement stating that there are officers and soldiers of the Russian army in Syria and, in particular, Damascus, and that any attack by the United States could endanger them, so Russia warns the US not to launch any attacks on Damascus and its suburbs. In addition, the Defence Ministry announced that it will take counter-measures against the platforms from which any missiles are launched towards Damascus, as well as American air bases from which planes bombing Damascus and its environs will fly.
Thus, Russia openly announced that it will start a war against America in the event of its attack on Damascus and its suburbs. At the same time, Russia does not condition its statement on the presence of soldiers and officers of the Russian army on this territory, speaking purely about possible American attacks on Damascus and the surrounding area. However, there is a secret clause which I, as a military strategist, can assess based on several factors.
The fact is that the agreement between Russia and Syria provides for the provision of Damascus military bases for a period of 49 years with the possibility of an extension of 25 years, but no one knows whether Russia will pay for these bases or at the cost of this agreement will help prevent the overthrow of the ruling government in Syria.
Special Russian-Turkish relations
Russian-Turkish relations are noteworthy. Moscow sent its army chief of staff to Syrian President Bashar Assad to inform him that the Turkish army would attack Syrian territory and occupy areas in Africa and other cities, and the Syrian army and its allies should not take any steps against Turkish armed forces. Thus, Russia gave the green light to the Turkish army, allowing it to occupy part of the Syrian territory and later leave it.
Russia also appealed to Iran about deterring the Kurds at its borders, so as to exert pressure on the Syrian Kurds as well, because they are interrelated. Kurdish "Self-Defence Forces" in the north of Syria, supported by the United States, will be weakened, as they will received an Iranian message that the Iranian army could invade Kurdistan and with the help of its armed groups, establish control over this region, thereby striking at the heart of Kurds, the province of Kurdistan.
So, Russia pressured Iran, and Iran pressured Kurdistan, closing all checkpoints and sending armed forces to Sulaimaniyah and Erbil, while Kurdish Peshmerga detachments ceased any action, afraid to face Iranian forces. This message reached its target, ie, the Kurds in the north of Syria, supported by the United States, and they began to retreat from their demands. In particular, they part of the territory left in the province of Raqqa. As for Deir-ez-Zor, the Kurds withdrew from there definitively, saying that they do not want to open a front against Iran and Russia, since they have enough fighting with Turkey, whose army is attacking the areas of Afrin and is already close to establishing full control over it the city and the surrounding area, which is home to about a million Kurds.
The agreement between Putin and Assad
It can be concluded that there is a secret agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad after Moscow issued a warning to Washington over the possible bombing of Damascus, which could contribute to the outbreak of war between the Russian and American armies. The agreement is that Russia will ensure the survival of the regime of Bashar Assad and defence of this regime, is ready to resist even the largest force in the form of the United States. This is clearly reflected in the statement of the Ministry of Defence of Russia and means that President Putin has undertaken to protect the Assad regime, and neither Jordan, nor Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran or Israel can overthrow it. Therefore, the task of the Russian army in Syria is to guarantee the preservation of power in the hands of President Bashar Assad after signing an agreement on the establishment of a naval and air base in addition to deploying 20,000 Russian servicemen at a third base near Damascus.
This means that Russia will ask President Assad to make some amendments to the constitution. In exchange, it decided to provide guarantees for the protection of the regime of President Assad, from which it can be concluded that if the Syrian army or some part of it organizes a coup against the current president, then Moscow will strike at these forces and help Assad to retain power. Considering that Russia has three military bases in Syria and the possibility of creating an air bridge between Crimea and Syria, the flight time between them is one hour and twenty minutes, it can be concluded that Moscow is capable of suppressing any coup attempt and resisting any blow to Syria. In addition, we should remember the S-600 missile system, which has not yet been demonstrated to the public and has not been exported abroad. According to confidential information, Russian President Putin ordered to deliver these complexes (capable of resisting any air target) to Syria within 72 hours, so that they would be ready for use against any goal approaching the capital Damascus and its suburbs.
Thus, 130 S-600 systems were delivered to an airbase in Khmeimim on 12 Russian aircraft. They were deployed south of Damascus in the direction of Deraa, not reaching the "red line." They are also deployed in all other Syrian regions, with the exception of the province of al-Hasakah, where the US Army and the Kurdish "Self-Defence Forces" are based.
Iranian pressure on Kurds and US bombing of Iranian convoys
The Iranian side exerted pressure on the Kurds and struck at the plans of the US Army to form an army in the north of Syria to protect the Kurdish people. It is known that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps organizes convoys of ordinary cars that travel from Deir ez Zor through the Syrian desert towards the Syrian capital.
Trump recently appointed CIA director Michael Pompeo as Secretary of State, who prompted the president to strike an Iranian convoy that constantly runs between the Province of Hama and Damascus towards the Syrian desert and Deir ez-Zor, which resulted in the death of about 100 Iranians. The reason is that Pompeo hates Iran and believes that this country only heeds power and weapons. The Iranians, who were bombed by American aircraft, were not conducting combat missions at the time, but were in civilian cars, in which there were no guns or machine guns. Thus, the American aircraft destroyed the Iranian convoy, which resulted in the death of at least one hundred people, and 230 more were injured. This is a serious challenge from the US and a demonstration of force against Iran on the part of Pompeo, which is intended to inform Tehran that the US military will strike at the Iranians in Syria, even if civil convoys without weapons and not rockets and machine guns appear on their screens.
Meanwhile, Russia has been occupied with the deployment of the S-600 and S-400 air defence systems around Damascus and towards Palmyra, Hama, Homs and the whole coast, in addition to the southern and eastern regions of Damascus, as well as its suburbs right up to the Lebanese border. No Russian missile was launched against American aircraft, which were bombed by an Iranian convoy. This means that Russia is not obligated to protect Iranian militants in Syria, and it is more important for it to fulfil its obligation to protect and hold President Bashar Assad in power and guarantee this directly with the help of the Russian army. As a consequence, Assad need not worry about any threats.
Assad: "The war will continue, and we will destroy all terrorists"
Recently, in his speech, the Syrian president said that the war in Syria will continue until the entire territory of the country is cleared of terrorists. Thus, for the first time President Assad has said that the war would end only if all terrorists, the Islamist armed opposition and other groups in Syria were liquidated. At the same time, he was making a statement about his obligation under UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which relates to the negotiations between the Syrian regime and the armed and unarmed opposition and the end of hostilities.
Thus, the Syrian president was rejecting resolution 2254, and even if the negotiations in Geneva take place, it will no longer matter. In 1977, Egypt, led by President Anwar Sadat, signed a military agreement with the Sudan, which at that time was headed by Jaafar Nimeiri. Then in this country there was a coup and the Sudanese president was deposed. Within a few days the Egyptian army entered the Sudan, occupied its capital Khartoum and restored the power of Jaafar Nimeiri, subjecting the organizers of the coup to repression. It should be noted that the number of Egyptian troops invading the territory of the Sudan was estimated at between 80,000 and 100,000 troops, which is a big force for suppressing an attempted coup d'état.
When speaking about a secret agreement between Russia and Syria, we should bear in mind that there are 32,000 people in the Russian naval base in Syria, including 15,000 soldiers. Another 20,000 Russian servicemen are in Damascus and are based on two military bases, one on the coast and the other near the capital. All this only confirms that the secret agreement between Russia and Syria provides for the commitment that Putin has made towards President Assad to preserve the latter as Syrian president and to protect the Syrian government. Thus, after seven years of war in Syria, whose goal was to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad, all resulted in the fact that Assad concluded an agreement with one of the largest countries in the world - Russia, which in its power is equal to the United States. Accordingly, Moscow will not allow any country to attack Syria and will prevent any attempt at a coup in Syria, organized against President Bashar Assad.
Russia: "We will respond to any strike on Damascus"
We assess all this without knowing the real details of the Russian-Syrian agreements, but we are relying on one main point - the statement of the Russian Ministry of Defence, which says that the Russian army will respond to any bombardments of Damascus, its environs and Syria, in general, from the United States. At the same time, it undertakes not only to shoot down air targets, but also the platforms from which missiles are launched, as well as to strike at American military bases where US aviation is concentrated. This is enough to argue that Russia has undertaken to protect the regime of President Assad, since during any bombing of Damascus, the presidential palace could be subjected to rocket fire, which threatens the life of the Syrian president.
There are also photos from the sites of three events involving Bashar Assad in Damascus, which show that Russian servicemen, along with the Syrian soldiers, provide protection for the president of Syria.
At the same time, we assume the secret agreement between President Putin and President Assad affected the countries of the region: Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon. This could mean that Israeli planes can raid the convoys of Hezbollah, and also that Syria will not attack any of its neighbours. It could also mean that Syria will not invade Lebanese territory, as it did in the past due to the fact that the Syrians could not enter Jordan, Iraq or occupied Palestine (Israel). Now the Syrian army probably will not have the right to invade Lebanese territory under Russian guarantees to the regime, since the West, especially France and America, will not allow the Syrian army to do this. Thus, at a conference in Rome in which 43 states took part, it was decided to provide the Lebanese army with the necessary weapons, so that its strength increased to 80,000 officers and soldiers. This gives the Lebanese army the opportunity to contain and prevent invasion by Syrian troops, since after the conference in Rome, its capabilities exceed the capabilities of the Syrian army with all its artillery, tanks and anti-tank missiles, and the level of training of Lebanese soldiers is also high.
Finally, we understand why Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recently announced that the war in Syria will not end until the country is cleared of all armed opposition forces. The content of the secret agreement between Putin and Assad can also be judged by the speeches of the Syrian president, or by the example of a telephone conversation between the Russian president and French President Macron, during which Putin asked him not to talk about Assad leaving. Indeed, the French president replied that the presence of President Assad in Syria is a fait accompli and it is necessary to interact with him. This is reported by Rambler.