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Russia to Supply S-300's to Syria
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It appears evident that it was the Syrians who took down the Russian Il-20 surveillance plane. Russian MoD claims that Israelis misinformed Russia about the target of their strikes, whose fighters used the hapless Il-20 for cover.

This would make it a combination of Arab incompetence and Jewish mendacity. A most stereotypical combination.

Now Russia has done its part to meet Israel halfway during this conflict:

Some sort of reaction is definitely called for.

That said, delivering the S-300PMU to the Syrians isn’t without its risks. Israel is not going to be very happy about it, and at the end of the day, Israel >> Khmeimim AFB in terms of military power (unless the most enthusiastic fanboys of Russian military hardware are right after all).

Not to mention that Israel has the world’s premier superpower at least half in tow.

It may well even launch a strike on the S-300 before it’s even set up, which would be $1 billion down the drain at best, a few more dead Russians at worst.

So my two major questions at this point are:

1. Who’s paying for this? One certainly hopes Syria (read: Iran).

2. What is Russia going to do if/when Israel attempts to take it out? $1 billion is not entirely negligible – for comparison, it’s the annual cost of Russia’s military operations in Syria, or its aid to the Donbass.

Even if no Russian uniformed personnel are hurt, this would demand a hard reaction to save face. Essentially Russia would need to adopt BDS as state policy. Western journalists will talk of a resurgence of Russian anti-Semitism. Perhaps more Western sanctions.

Anyhow, I do hope the kremlins know what they are doing.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Israel, Military, Russia, Syria, Syrian Civil War 
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  1. and at the end of the day, Israel >> Khmeimim AFB in terms of military power (unless the most enthusiastic fanboys of Russian military hardware are right after all)

    Even if said fanboys are correct (doubtful, especially since much of the very small force consists of old Su-24s) it’s quite irrelevant simply owing to force disparity.

    JV 44 (Luftwaffe’s best remaining pilots equipped with Me-262 jets) achieved an impressive 4:1 K-D ratio in the last months of WW2. Did absolutely fuck all. Even if formed a year earlier would likely have achieved fuck all.

    The decision of Robert Gates to cap F-22 production at 187 units was bitterly criticized by the Air Force Association at the time for similar reasons.

  2. There’s also the recent terror attack in Iran which the Iranians blame on Gulf Arabs, Israel, the US or a combination of all of them:

    https://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/ahvaz-terror-attack-iran-may-drag-us-larger-war-1037509599

    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/irans-rouhani-blames-us-backed-gulf-arab-states-military-parade-attack-1157033121

    Haley recently claimed Iran was again pursuing nuclear weapons.
    Admittedly, there have been many false alarms over the years, but the potential for a wider Mideast war seems to persist.

    • Replies: @songbird
  3. Dmitry says:

    Official narrative did not fit together, but there has to be some kind of story to present responsibility in such a way that people with important jobs, do not lose their jobs.

    -

    For the S-300.

    Remember, Syria said they already had had them in April.

    https://www.interfax.ru/world/610027

    The export price of S-300 system was $900 million, for a system including 4 batteries.

    So the question of cost is how many batteries are they sending now?

    It could be significantly cheaper than $900 million, if it is less than 4 batteries.

    I would imagine that Syria is paying for them on Iranian credit? (otherwise what would be the motive to send them? Considering S-400 is already there).

    1. Who’s paying for this? One certainly hopes Syria (read: Iran).

    It must be Syria paying, with Iranian credit card.

  4. songbird says:
    @German_reader

    It is funny to read the old-style Ayatollah rhetoric: it feels a bit outdated, almost optimistic. As an American I feel empowered by the fantasy that there are US puppets. In reality, I think it is something more like America being the puppet and having many puppet masters.

    Also, kind of funny to come out against the UAE as an agressor, when you are occupying islands that belong to the UAE.

    That other piece is also funny in its way. The US should pull out of Iran, to further its strategic interests in Asia? Well, if one believes that the US has legitimate strategic interests in Asia, then as a consequence, it naturally has strategic interests in the Middle East. Not that I favor any of it.

    Propaganda can be very amusing in small doses.

  5. peterAUS says:

    1. Who’s paying for this? One certainly hopes Syria (read: Iran).

    Doesn’t matter much really.

    2. What is Russia going to do if/when Israel attempts to take it out? $1 billion is not entirely negligible – for comparison, it’s the annual cost of Russia’s military operations in Syria, or its aid to the Donbass.

    Nothing.
    Oh, wait. It will deliver more of that and/or similar hardware.

    Now, what almost nobody on this site appears to be quite getting (apart from a couple of guys who are somehow psychotic) is that delivering this system to Syrians has nothing to do with challenging IAF in any capacity for quite some time.
    Takes a lot of time to get all that set up, competent crews in particular. Did I say “competent”. Funny.
    No, I am not talking about technical proficiency; I am talking about that peculiar quality of Arabs in war.

    Then, integrating that system into….what? Is there really an integrated air defense system in Syria? Really integrated: hardware, software, MEN and the most important, Command and Control?
    Yeah…

    So, here is what’s going to happen:
    The system will get delivered->IAF will keep doing what’s been doing->sooner or later we’ll have another Russian loss of men/material.
    Should things ever appear to be getting out of hand the regime in Kremlin will blink and “accomodate”. Always.
    Will it td the same closer to home we’ll see.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  6. Anonymous[392] • Disclaimer says:

    Isreal will not strike the S300.

    Russia will have the site defended by other air defense systems while it is being set up and there is no way Isreal decides to escalate things that far. They don’t have the balls.

    The cost of the system does not matter since the geopolitical ramifications of Syria to future oil and gas pipelines is invaluable. That is why Russia is there in the first place, because Syria is an important country to connect Asia to Europe.

  7. Vendetta says:

    No, Israel will not attack the S-300 shipment. Netanyahu is about to roll over like a dog and do nothing. He has zero appetite for shooting war with Russia. Netanyahu is on the ropes at home politically, and Russian-born Israelis, many of whom have lingering ties with their country of origin, are a key bloc of his coalition. War with Russia is political suicide for him.

    I think we all overestimate the extent to which Israel’s actions in Syria over the last two years have been part of a clever strategy, and fail to realize how much it’s been just plain boomerism on Netanyahu’s part. Blowing up a few things here and there to remind his voters how he’s “tough on Iran.” Israel’s air strikes have utterly failed to shape events on the ground, which have been going all Assad’s way ever since the Russians came in.

    Israel may choose to mount its pinprick raids here and there in southern Syria but they will not be back in the northwest, where all the remaining action will play out. They are done as a serious player in influencing the outcome of the war. If they choose to commit another foul, Iran may be the next country to get a major weapons delivery.

    What’s more likely to happen is that Netanyahu is going to send the IDF back into Gaza to beat up on Hamas for a little self-esteem boost. That’s standard Israeli practice when they meet frustration with their goals elsewhere.

    • Replies: @LondonBob
    , @Beckow
    , @Tyrion 2
  8. LondonBob says:
    @Vendetta

    Agree, any serious attack on Syria would imply unacceptable losses on Israel’s part, and more importantly unacceptable losses for FUKUS. This move took too long, this basically ensures no more attacks on Syria.

  9. How did the USSR do that after 1967? How much did it cost? (I guess way more than a billion, but perhaps not something totally out of reach for Russia now, considering that they only want to replicate it for perhaps the northern part of Syria.) By early 1970 there were lots of Soviet SAM batteries (operated by the Soviets) and Soviet fighter jets. Finally the Israelis managed to down several Soviet jets in a battle (they set a trap for them, all it was down to a few mistakes by the local Soviet command), but it was in part also because the Soviets set increasingly ambitious aims. Basically they wanted to help Egypt and Syria evict the Israelis from the territories they had conquered in 1967. Now the goals would be totally modest: to prevent the Israelis from lobbing missiles around the Russian base without Russia getting directly involved. I don’t think it’d be impossible.

    Regarding the destruction of the S-300, this is a bunch of trucks and missiles. The Israelis managed to destroy one Pantsir truck (out of how many? they certainly didn’t show more than one video of such an event) a couple months ago, but destroying an entire complex consisting of dozens of trucks etc. would be a completely different ballgame. Especially since now they’re assigning a Russian officer (probably de facto co-commander) to the Syrian air defense units. I don’t think it’s that easy to destroy air defense units even with minimal levels of competence, for example even the Iraqis managed to operate some air defense even while there was a no-fly zone. NATO failed to destroy Yugoslav air defenses, though admittedly they were operated with a proficiency way above that of Arabs. What’s certain is that Egyptians (though probably among the best Arabs, certainly way better than current Syrians) were really good with them in the early 1970s.

    • Replies: @Vendetta
    , @Dan Bagrov
  10. bb. says:

    where did you get a price of 1 billion. I bet it’s nothing near a billion $ in terms of real costs. the markup for a system which has no real substitutes can be multiples of production costs. the prices quoted in contracts are just a tip of the iceberg. they include servicing and reloading and training and whatnot. I am inclined to believe these (2012, no significant inflation) numbers more>https://www.military-quotes.com/forum/price-russian-weapons-t98271.html

    Missile systems

    * S-400 (SA-21): $400 million per fire unit (8 launchers, 112 missiles, command and support vehicles) (estimate based on performance figures, larger missile load, etc)
    * S-300PMU-2 – (SA-20B): $200 million per fire unit (6 launchers, 48 missiles, command and support vehicles) (guess based on below)
    * S-300PMU-1 – (SA-20A): $160 million per fire unit (6 launchers, 48 missiles, command and support vehicles) – (based on VERY recent Iranian order and other sales)
    * Buk-M1-2 (SA-17): ~$120 million per battalion with 6 TELARs, 6 transloaders, & 36 missiles (pretty much a guess)
    * Tor-M1 (SA-15): $25 million (based on possible future sale)
    * Pantsir-S1: $16+ million (based on sale to Algeria)
    * Bastion-P Coastal Defense Battery: $150 million for radar, control center, 6 launchers, & 36 missiles – (based on Syrian buy)

    Also, I would guess that the setup phase can be guarded by maritime s300-400 platforms.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @Dmitry
  11. Dmitry says:
    @bb.

    It’s $900 million, according to the newspaper reports for April. This is S-300 package (with 4 batteries).

    • Replies: @Dmitry
    , @reiner Tor
  12. Dmitry says:
    @Dmitry

    The original contract for Syria (signed in 2010), was 4 batteries with 194 missiles, for $900 million.

    -

    If we go back to different reports of April, Kommersant said it would go to Syria gratuitously. This seems unlikely as a claim – such disinterested actions. Perhaps Syria is going to pay subsequently

    https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/3612197

  13. Epigon says:
    @Anon

    Romans must have had plenty of Slavs as Slaves – Sclavus. NOT.

    But even this “Youtube history” is less of a travesty than “official” history of Slavs: from sparsely populated marshes of Pripyat and region between Dniester and Pripyat in 6th century, to almost half of Europe in 7th, from Peloponnese to Hamburg to Ladoga!
    Quite a magnificent logistical, demographic and military feat, and all this by primitive cannibalistic tribal savages!

  14. @Thorfinnsson

    You seem to think that Israeli Jews have the same fighting spirit that uncucked Germans had…
    Tiny Israel will fight Total Warware against the nuclear superpower to defend its “right” to conduct ineffectual bombing campaign in Syria – I don’t think so. We’re talking about very small, very vulnerable country, full of weak, scaredy people.

    I like these recent developments. Finally, Kremlin is doing something to impose costs on Israel. We’ll know soon enough if these measures are enough to change Israeli behavior, and if not, hopefully more steps will follow.

    I believe that given sufficient Russian determination, Israelis can be put into a small box.

  15. @Dmitry

    Don’t be so dense. The point made by bb. was that the sales price might be $900 million, but the cost of producing it might be significantly less, probably only $200-300 million. Moreover, it was produced several years ago, from the reserves of the Russian military, so even that cost is just theoretical.

    • Replies: @bb.
    , @LondonBob
    , @Dmitry
  16. @Felix Keverich

    Proposal for you: try to understand Thorfinsson’s comment before replying to it.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  17. @Thorfinnsson

    Russian missiles would quickly render Israeli airfields inoperable.

  18. @reiner Tor

    Thorfinson basically says that Israel is prepared to sacrifice substantial portion of its airforce trying to defeat S300. This is baloney.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  19. @Felix Keverich

    He never compared them to Germans. Russians were the Germans in the metaphor.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  20. @reiner Tor

    Ok, so if Russia is Nazi Germany, that means IDF is the Red Army now? Thorfinson’s analogy just got even more preposterous.

    …Jews will crawl into a corner, wary of getting hurt, then command Americans to solve this problem for them. Red Army they are not. ;)

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @reiner Tor
  21. @jimmyriddle

    Highly unlikely. The US sent dozens of missiles into Syria, with basically zero effect. How many missiles would it take to destroy most Israeli airfields? A thousand? Two thousand?

    • Replies: @LondonBob
  22. @Felix Keverich

    Why don’t you read Thorfinsson’s comment? The small Russian contingent is the small remnant of the Luftwaffe in early 1945, and the Israeli Air Force (altogether half as large as the entire Russian Air Force, but probably significantly more modern on average) is the Allied air force. So unless Russia sends in significant reinforcements, even if it had a qualitative advantage (unlikely, but perhaps possible), it’d be weaker.

    Anyway, I think it’d be possible to deny Israel the Northern Syrian (or the Northwest Syrian) airspace, and that’d probably be enough. You are correct that they won’t risk significant losses, especially not over enemy territory (which would result in Israeli POWs in Syrian hands).

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  23. @LondonBob

    Has the ring of truth to it.

    Yes, it is quite good, actually, and would explain in large part the pathetic “defense” of the Kremlins. It is interesting to note of course that: “The post was deleted by Facebook because it allegedly violated its rules. ” What rules would these be?

    • Agree: reiner Tor
  24. @Felix Keverich

    Russia is Nazi Germany

    Interestingly, during WW2, Nazi Germany had the best looking uniforms. Now it’s Russia. (I think already since the 1960s, but especially since the 1990s. I liked the huge visor caps, but maybe the slightly smaller ones in use now look even better.)

  25. bb. says:
    @reiner Tor

    900 mil. sales price for 4 batteries actually is in the 150-200 mil. per battery cited in the forum.

    I actually spent about an hour after lunch looking for Almaz-Antey margins or some financial data that would shed light on their missile COGS but, maybe unsurprisingly, to no avail. The conglomerate has many subsidiaries,(some of their homepages are really retro) and the costs are probably spread out to several of them. Currently skimming NPO Almaz (http://www.raspletin.com/aktsioneram-i-investoram-38079/finansovaja-otchetnost) I will post here, if I find something of interest.
    From other forums, where employees go to brag/complain, it looks like the management style hasn’t changed much since the Soviets, so even if I did find some data, I don’t really expect them to be GAAP level.

    Still, even if they brought in 4 batteries, I believe it is highly unlikely that Israelis would hit all 4 spread out.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  26. @reiner Tor

    We don’t need to dogfight Israelis in Syria. This is what S400 and S300 are for. Assuming these systems perform to their specs, Israeli airforce will suffer a small Holocaust. Is that a price they are willing to pay? No.

  27. @Felix Keverich

    Huh? I compared the Russian forces in Syria to the Luftwaffe’s JV 44.

    I happen to agree that Israel will not attack the S-300 system, at least not while Russia is in theater. Russia has plenty of non-military options to begin with to retaliate against Israel, to say nothing of the military options. Netanyahu isn’t stupid, as evidenced by the fact he generally tries to use America to attack Israeli enemies rather than doing it himself (which could quickly escalate into disaster).

    My comment was simply about force ratios. *IF* Israel decided to attack Russian forces in Syria, it would prevail (over the Russian forces currently in Syria that is) owing to numerical superiority.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    , @Anonymous
  28. @jimmyriddle

    That would be my plan to fight Israel. lol

    At the moment however, Russia has no offensive missiles stationed in Syria yet.

  29. @jimmyriddle

    Bulldozers can push dirt into craters a lot faster than HE warheads can produce new craters. In fact so can men with shovels and wheel barrows. If you want to strike at air bases you’re better off trying to hit fuel dumps. Sochi is about 800 miles from Haifa. What is the total Russian inventory of cruise missiles with a range exceeding that?

    Shorter ranged missiles can be deployed into Syria itself of course…with time.

    If Russia decided to strike Israel proper with cruise missiles it would choose other targets.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    , @Anonymous
  30. @Thorfinnsson

    Huh? I compared the Russian forces in Syria to the Luftwaffe’s JV 44.

    In what way S300 is comparable to an old German fighter? S300 can engage dosens of targets simultaneously. Its combat effectiveness is not dimished by engaging multiple (numerically superior lol) targets. It was designed for that purpose.

    *IF* Israel decided to attack Russian forces in Syria, it would prevail

    There is no “IF”, it won’t happen. Even upon losing its planes, Israel will back off, and ask Americans to deal with this problem.

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  31. @bb.

    I doubt sales price is anywhere near production costs. Normally defense systems have enormous development costs, so the marginal cost of production will be significantly lower than the sales price.

  32. @Thorfinnsson

    Bulldozers can push dirt into craters a lot faster than HE warheads can produce new craters.

    You think ‘dirt’ is good enough tarmac to launch an F16? Are they designed for that purpose?

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    , @reiner Tor
  33. LondonBob says:
    @reiner Tor

    Sunk costs if it is a unit that was being upgraded to S400. Besides to certain extent it is just moving resources around the Russian economy.

  34. Dmitry says:
    @reiner Tor

    This is just “market value” – it’s the only publicly available information for the package which Syria ordered in 2010.

    Of course, the system was built years ago, the R&D costs are an ancient sunk cost of the Soviet Union, and there are not other buyers.

    So it is like moving something out of a warehouse.

    The Syrians were already “trained” (it doesn’t necessarily give confidence they won’t shoot down an airliner next) on this system, with the assumption it was going to be delivered earlier this year.

    -

    Overall policy – the key is whether Syrians are paying or not. If it’s given freely as Kommersant claim, it is more continuous, continuation of Soviet normalcy, of giving freely military hardware for Arab armies to anti-advertise it.

    The difference is quite large though from an Israeli perspective. If Syria paid for this, then Israel could destroy it without so many response.

    However, if this is a free gift, then there will have to be some major response from if Israel attacks it.

    In Soviet times, I wonder if there was ever carefully accountancy of how much money was expended on the systems, which were then given freely around the world.

    Strategically it had some advantage of making Americans repeat the policy, and waste their own resources in similar manner – in the case of Egypt, even directly replacing the role which continues today.

  35. @Felix Keverich

    In what way S300 is comparable to an old German fighter? S300 can engage dosens of targets simultaneously. Its combat effectiveness is not dimished by engaging multiple (numerically superior lol) targets. It was designed for that purpose.

    Here is the quote from Karlin’s OP:

    That said, delivering the S-300PMU to the Syrians isn’t without its risks. Israel is not going to be very happy about it, and at the end of the day, Israel >> Khmeimim AFB in terms of military power (unless the most enthusiastic fanboys of Russian military hardware are right after all).

    Khmeimim AFB hosts the RuAF in Syria. So Karlin is not talking about the (as yet undelivered) S-300PMU vs. IAF, but rather the RuAF in Syria vs. the IDF.

    *IF* “enthusiastic fanboys” are correct, that means the RuAF in Syria enjoys a qualitative edge over the IAF. Just like the Me-262 had a qualitative edge over the P-51.

    My comment was that even assuming this is true, it’s irrelevant because the IAF has a lot more forces in theater than the RuAF.

    There is no “IF”, it won’t happen. Even upon losing its planes, Israel will back off, and ask Americans to deal with this problem.

    I agree with this, but it’s not what my original comment was about.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Felix Keverich
  36. LondonBob says:
    @reiner Tor

    The second cruise missile strike was on empty warehouses, the first one hit Shayrat hard and is still not fully operational. FUKUS were planning to do substantial strikes on Syrian military installations that would have rendered them inoperable for some time. This isn’t WWII when Spitfires can take off from fields.

  37. @Felix Keverich

    Yes, it is indeed good enough. Especially because you can wet dirt down with water or macadam it very quickly. Austere airbases reduce sortie rates and increase maintenance requirements which is why US and allied forces generally avoid them.

    Switzerland and Sweden operate fighters with American jet engines with an austere airbase doctrine. I believe Norway and Austria have austere base doctrines as well but know less about this.

    Here’s an example from Sweden:

    The aircraft you see is a Saab J 37 Viggen which has a Swedish derivative of the Pratt & Whitney JT8D turbofan engine (which otherwise was only used in civil aviation to my knowledge).

    That said, no, the F-16 will not do as well on an austere strip as a MiG-29 since the MiG-29 has popup intakes on the top of the fuselage.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  38. Dmitry says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Felix I don’t think military is this game of “hawks and doves”.

    However, perhaps you can understand better than me, how this multistage “chess problem” is?

    The much more advanced and modern, S-400 system, is already established in Latakia for 3 years.

    If functions as advertised, all that was required to shut down at least this area, was to say to Israel (USA/Turkey/France, etc) that this area of airspace (at least around Latakia where are Russian forces) was protected.

    S-400 is there and can shoot down any unauthorized planes – so all that needs to be issued is a warning to other airforces, not to fly in this zone. Just some firmness on this point, would save all the problems.

    Apparently, though, policy was not this- but it was to allow Israel to fly here, while also allowing Syria to fire back.

    This recipe predictably results in Syrian S-200 to shoot down almost irreplaceable ELINT aircraft with 15 airmen.

    New response is to now not simply close down airspace with S-400.

    But instead to give to Syria its own, older S-300 system. The system has longer range – some missiles have enough range potentially shoot down airliners from Northern Tel Aviv, to Cypress, to most of Turkey, covering the main area of Russian charter tourism. (I might be a little worried next time I fly over here).

    At the same time, S-400, will still (it seems from statements) probably not shoot anything that flies over.

    -

    Why was the operating area above Latakia simply not shut down by S-400 since 2015?

    Either there is some level of chess I don’t understand, or this is how you would do “geopolitics at IQ of 75″.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  39. @Felix Keverich

    A decent road can be built in a few days. It won’t last for very long, maybe, but as a stopgap measure, it’d be good enough.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  40. Anonymous[392] • Disclaimer says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    That is rediculous.

    This isn’t WW2 and Russia can change those ratios practically overnight if it wishes due to modern day logistics, cruise missiles, and airforce technology.

    How was Isreals force ratio helping them to defeat Lebbanon?

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  41. Anonymous[392] • Disclaimer says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Rediculous.

    Missiles can be launched one after the other if need be to destroy repair crews even.

  42. @Anonymous

    Modern day logistics = higher fuel consumption and ammunition expenditures

    This means you require more ships, tankers, trucks, bases, depots, dumps, warehouses, etc.

    What is the idle air base capacity in Syria right now? If it’s not much, then you’re talking about construction.

    Russia can shower Israel with cruise missiles of course, but that wouldn’t save the RuAF in Syria.

    As for the Lebanon, I haven’t said the IDF is invincible or that it always attains its objectives. My only point is that the IAF can destroy the RuAF in Syria owing to numerical superiority. Russia is quite aware of this which is why there’s a deconfliction hotline and why they’ve deployed and demonstrated some asymmetric response tools.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Dmitry
  43. @Anonymous

    Missiles run out.

    And they run out before warstocks actually go to zero owing to the need to keep respectable warstocks in reserve for other contingencies.

    And no, you can’t target the repair crews unless you can constantly surveil the area and can strike the area immediately.

  44. Anonymous[392] • Disclaimer says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Isreal would not be able to overwhelm Russian forces in Syria unless it went big and sent its entire airforce against it and was willing to take substantial losses and inflict substantial Russian losses.

    If this were the case, Russia could refortify the position as quickly and then Isreal would be in deep shit.

    Isreal does not have the balls to do this so it is a moot point.

  45. Dmitry says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    In Israel, their plan is to use highways designed to be runways. I can see Highway 4 has a designated airport code.

    I can believe myself – these roads with long, smooth parts of them. It would be interesting how they move the planes onto them though (on the back of a truck?).

  46. @Anonymous

    If you really wanted to kill the repair crews, there are a lot better ways about it, but that’s definitely a level of escalation that’s uncomfortable to reach.

    As a general rule, destroying/suppressing runways is a surprisingly difficult task. You’re better off targeting the planes, not the runways, for a much higher level of destruction and probably less actual killing depending on populated the hangers are.

  47. @Dmitry

    Yes. This is common(Taiwan does this too), and repair crews could arguably be civilians. Targetting them is probably not a position that a country wants to be in.

  48. Anonymous[392] • Disclaimer says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Wow, more fuel and ammo spent. Big deal.

    Do you think this would be enough to motivate Russia to not defend their own soldiers if they were attacked? Especially considering how valuable this country is to its geopolitical future?

    War is not about one battle, it is about a series of battles to win the war. Isreal would not destroy a small force in Syria risk going to war with the strongest military in the world armed with nuclear missles.

    It is a weak point and utterly meaningless since, as you say, Isreal is not going to risk doing this.

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  49. Dmitry says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    My only point is that the IAF can destroy the RuAF in Syria owing to numerical superiority. Russia is quite aware of this which is why there’s a deconfliction hotline and why they’ve deployed and demonstrated some asymmetric response tools.

    Well these two airforces were even behaving as “friends” until last week, which is partly what has caused the shootdown in the beginning.

    S-400 is deployed in Latakia since 2015. At the same time, Israeli planes are allow to fly over. And at the same time, Syria is allowed to fire back with S-200. At the same time, an almost irreplaceably important ELINT plane with 15 airmen is flying between the “drive by shooting”.

    It’s still not adequately explained, how strange the situation is.

    All that was needed was a policy with S-400, that it was shutting down the airspace over Latakia.

  50. @Dmitry

    Here’s a Danish F-16 on a truck in Copenhagen.

    Many AFBs also allow taking off from the taxiway in the event the runway is damaged.

    It’s a common fantasy of Russian-hardware fanboys that US+Allied airpower can be easily defeated by striking airbases. American critics of American warplanes contribute to this myth by noting the daily FOB inspections on American AFBs as if this were a bad practice.

    Allied targeting of Iraqi airbases in the Gulf War (with dedicated runway cratering munitions) was largely ineffective. As was Allied targeting of German airbases in WW2 (though it caused the Germans enough trouble that they painted fake craters on runways).

    And from last year: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/08/syrian-warplanes-take-air-base-bombed-us-tomahawks/

  51. @Anonymous

    More fuel and more ammo means larger logistics tails, which are themselves vulnerable.

    It’s very strange how committed some commenters are in belaboring this and making arguments against points I never made to begin with.

    Yes, if Israel attacks Russian forces in Syria (directly, deliberately, en masse, etc.), then Russia has no choice but to respond.

    The nature of its response will be constrained by geography and infrastructure, but respond it will.

  52. @Dmitry

    S-400 is there and can shoot down any unauthorized planes

    Yeah but then Russia would directly be at a shooting war with Israel, which it still tries to avoid. (The aversion to a shooting war is mutual – the Israelis also try to avoid shooting at Russian targets.)

    So delivering the S-300 to Syria gives Russia the option of staying out of a direct confrontation with Israel, while still denying the airspace to Israel. (Unless Israel uses F-35s, which might or might not work as advertised, are more costly to operate, can carry less weapons, and might nevertheless be destroyed by the S-300 already.)

    Of course, the S-300 will most likely be operated by Russian crews, but it gives Russia plausible deniability about it.

  53. @Thorfinnsson

    You sound like you got confused a little, first saying that Israel has numerical superiority, then agreeing with me, that it makes no difference. lol

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  54. @reiner Tor

    A decent road can be built in a few days.

    We only need a couple of hours for stragetic bombers to swoop in and demolish entire Israeli airforce, waiting for its runways to be repaired. :)

    • Replies: @LondonBob
    , @Dmitry
  55. utu says:

    In 18 months there were 200 Israeli incursions/attacks on Syria. More than two per week on average. Only one time Syrian defenses succeeded shooting down Israeli plane.

    Israeli attacks are usually not reported in Western and Russian media. So we will not know whether the recent mishap with IL-20 and the subsequent Russia posturing will have any impact on Israel’s behavior.

    It seems that Israel does what it wants because this must have been the condition in the agreement between Russian and Israel in 2015 when Russia got assurances from Netanyahu that RuAF would not be molested by IAF. The deconflicting procedures must have worked pretty well because we haven’t heard about any major incidents.

    • Replies: @LondonBob
    , @Gerard2
  56. @Felix Keverich

    First matter is a tactical question.

    Second matter is a strategic one, which was not the subject of my original comment (I’m fine discussing it, it’s just a separate issue).

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  57. @Thorfinnsson

    Isn’t it a little silly, discussing hypothetical Israeli clash with Russian forces in Syria, which will never come, even if we start downing their planes, bombing Syria?

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  58. LondonBob says:
    @utu

    Israel stopped airstrikes over Syria after the last jets were hit, they have being popping up and firing from distance since.

  59. LondonBob says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Exactly you destroy planes on the ground, fuel, ammo dumps, control towers, hangers etc. The runway is pretty meaningless. A saturation attack would leave little to hit back with and would be hit again anyway.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  60. @Felix Keverich

    No. Wargames address issues like this all the time. Silly is a fanboy thinking that wunderwaffe can overcome substantial inferiority in numbers (I recall previously on this blog that an American fanboy confidently predicted one F-35 would defeat 100 Su-35s or some similar nonsense).

    Russia itself is aware of its inferiority in theater which is why the S-400 and a naval taskforce were deployed. This credibly deters non-fighter assets (and makes life more difficult for fighters).

    It also explains much of its relatively meek behavior with respect to Israel and FUKUS provocations.

    Likewise FUKUS and Israel are aware that Russia, while it would lose an air war in theater, has some very unpleasant options for retaliation. Hence the silly cruise missile theatrics.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  61. @LondonBob

    Hit the runways to ground their planes. Russian bombers would not be able to approach Israel otherwise.

  62. Dmitry says:
    @Felix Keverich

    And how do strategic bombers avoid being shot down by modern SAMs?

    We already went through this whole discussion a few pages ago.

    -

    In the Cold War, it was discussed many times. The first is the nuclear ICBMs. And the second are nuclear standoff missiles, fired by bombers from outside the range of SAMs.

    In terms of conventional SEAD, you will need a large aerial campaign, using things like decoys and radar homing missiles.

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  63. @Dmitry

    The bigger issue is that if a coordinated attack on runways like that happened, I would bet money that the US would immediately rush assets to defend “our greatest ally.” At that point, I don’t think that much more can happen without triggering a world war.

    That said, I think there’s no reason why Russia cannot target hangers with jets inside via cruise missile. It’ll get the point across, and the damage will be quite unforgettable in terms of capital. It’ll probably be a step below world war, too.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  64. @Thorfinnsson

    Silly is a fanboy thinking that wunderwaffe can overcome substantial inferiority in numbers

    If wunderwaffe can stop Israeli attacks on Syria, it’s all we need, for now at least. Destruction of Israeli army and state is not the goal.

    • Replies: @utu
  65. utu says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Russia already has the Wunderwaffe. All Russia needs is to make a credible threat that it will use the Wunderwaffe if Israel continues attacking targets in Syria. The threat must be believed.

  66. Vendetta says:
    @reiner Tor

    S-300/400 units are structured the way they are for a reason. One battalion is the smallest force that can operate independently at full effectiveness: two batteries, each including four launch vehicles, a radar, and a command unit.

    Four launch vehicles per radar means that one or two of them can be firing or ready to fire at any given moment while the others are repositioning. Two batteries with their own radar vehicles means one radar can be on or ready to turn on while the other is off and moving to a new location.

    The amateur picture Anatoly is imagining where the battalion fires off all 64 of its missiles in one big volley at some wave of hundreds of attacking Israeli aircraft and then gets “overwhelmed” and destroyed once it’s out of ammo is not how any proficient user of the system would operate (or how any competent air force would go about engaging in a SEAD campaign).

    The S-300 and other shorter ranged air defense systems are designed to be used in leapfrogging tactics like the ones described above: some part of the system will always be ready to fire and covering the movement of the other parts of the system as they shift positions to avoid counter-strikes.

    S-300 is also intended to be used in conjunction with medium ranged systems like Buk or Tor and point defense systems like Pantsir as part of a defense in depth. The effectiveness and survivability of the shorter ranged systems is greatly enhanced once S-300 is integrated into the force because they no longer have to rely as much on their own radars (which highlight them as targets for enemy SEAD). They can rely on the S-300’s longer ranged radar as an early warning system; the S-300 commander can track incoming enemy planes from far off and let the other systems know when to light up just as the enemy has arrived in their kill zones.

    Pushing the button to fire a missile at a plane is not the hard part of operating an air defense system successfully, in fact it’s the easiest. Basic proficiency in using a radar is a little harder but still relatively simple: almost anyone can be trained to learn these skills and shoot down a plane when it shows up. Much of this is aided by automation in modern day SAM systems.

    The hard part is mastering several other things which will determine whether your air defense system as a whole will survive or be destroyed by a competent, well-equipped enemy waging a full blown SEAD campaign.

    First of these is meticulous advance preparation. An S-300 battalion is not ready to defend an area the second it rolls in and parks. Not if it wants to last long against an enemy air force. An S-300 commander will spend hours, days, or weeks (as much time as he can afford) scouting out the region ahead of time, ideally before his battalion’s vehicles have arrived in the first place. He will make note of a long list of sites that can be used for firing and fallback positions. He will spend time ensuring there are clear routes between them, arranging decoys, building up concealment around the sites. The unit will drill and commit these positions to memory; they will plan out ahead of time whose vehicles will go in exactly what spot, what’s the next spot they will move to after firing, what’s the next spot after that, and after that, and after that, so that no precious seconds are wasted in a combat situation trying to decide “Uh? Where do we go?”

    Second skill is unit discipline. As we saw with the video of a Syrian Pantsir being destroyed a few months ago, you can have the best weapon system in the world, and it can still be useless and helpless if the people in charge of it are off smoking a cigarette instead of operating it. Ensuring crews are present at their battle stations is the most basic and obvious measure of discipline, but far from the only one. Are the crews keeping up with the maintenance on their vehicles, or are they slacking? Do they know how to perform the proper field maintenance, even if they are motivated enough to do it? Did the guys at the actual maintenance shop do their jobs, or were they slacking? Can the guys in the field not keep their vehicles in order because the guys in the logistics chain were slacking and didn’t give them the tools or the parts they need?

    It’s not all complicated “my radar is glitching and none of us know how to debug it,” it’s simple bonehead stuff. “We just fired and we need to move now *THUD* what the fuck, the wheel on the front right just fell off the axle…what the fuck, there’s rust all over under here…Ahmed, get the tool kit…what the fuck Ahmed, hurry up with that tool kit…what do you means it’s not there, check everywhere…why the fuck was it under the seat, hurry up just bring it here…Ahmed, there’s no torque wrench in here, what happened to the torque wrench…did you get it back after you loaned it Hassan…AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” *AGM strike*

    Third skill to master is coordination, ability to not only operate your own weapon but to operate it as part of a a larger system, delegating targets more appropriate to other weapons to other operators in the system, making sure you aren’t wasting extra shots firing at the same target as two other batteries while two other planes are slipping through unengaged, calling other units for help when you need it and having them respond in timely fashion, covering for the others when they need it, making sure you aren’t going to run out of missiles and need a reload at the exact same time another unit has and there’s only one reload unit ready to deliver for both of you, etc.

    Part of this can be eased by automatic command and control directors, like the Pollyanna unit the Russians also announced they will be shipping to Syria. But no computer will save you if the people in the system aren’t trained to communicate and act efficiently as part of a larger whole.

    Last, and perhaps the most difficult of all to truly master, is good small unit leadership. An SAM unit’s survival against a SEAD campaign depends on good judgment, snap decision making, and a lot of initiative from junior officers. One bad call, or just a few seconds of indecision, can be the difference between life and death for the entire unit.

    This is not something that can just be taught out of a book, or PowerPoint slides, or a few weeks in a training course. This isn’t a bullet point you can check off like maintenance, or a proficiency you can demonstrate on a test. While you will always have individuals of exceptional talent here and there, even in a lousy army, whether your force as a whole benefits from quality junior leadership or not depends on whether the qualities of good leadership are instilled and practiced as part of a military culture.

    Traditionally, Arab militaries of the last century have struggled with this (as well as with all the other things I mentioned earlier). Low human capital can explain some of this struggle, but only to an extent. Culture really does matter here. There are plenty of examples of highly intelligent and accomplished peoples whose military forces cultivated cultures of bad leadership and lost wars because of it (the French in World War II, the Austrians in World War I, the Chinese at various points in their history).

    And there are also examples of the reverse, Hezbollah being a prime one. The backbone of Hezbollah is the Shi’a Lebanese peasant, a simple man who has spent most of his time at the bottom of Lebanese society’s hierarchy. The Shi’a were poor, parochial, and by and large ignored as the least significant player in Lebanese politics, up until they formed Hezbollah, pound for pound the most effective Arab fighting force on the planet. Not only are they Arabs, they’re not even ‘sophisticated’ Arabs, not compared to the wealthier and more urbanized Lebanese Christians and Sunni. Yet Hezbollah will walk all over any fighting force fielded by the rest of Lebanon. Why is that? Because of an excellent martial culture, not because of IQ. The Shi’a of Lebanon aren’t producing many rocket scientists, but they are fielding an excellent corps of rocket artillerymen.

    To bring this all back to Syria, yes, the SAA just got a major, major upgrade to its air defense capabilities, but there will still be an uphill struggle for them in molding a better military culture (as well as improving on all the other practices I’ve mentioned). This will not be an easy task, even with the help of better Russian and Iranian advisors. But it isn’t beyond their means either to make something better of themselves. On a smaller scale for example, Suheil al-Hassan has made great soldiers of the men and officers from the Tiger Forces. They’re not hopeless just because they’re Syrians, but it will probably take one or more great officers of al-Hassan’s caliber in the Syrian air defense forces to raise them to a truly respectable standard (Syrian officers, not Russian ones – foreigners can train you in everything else but culture is the one thing you have to build on your own – it’s why every foreign army the US has built from scratch – Vietnamese, Afghan, Iraqi – has failed disgracefully in the field no matter how much time and money was invested in training it).

    • Agree: Tyrion 2, Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @utu
    , @peterAUS
  67. @Vendetta

    The point I made was that it is difficult to destroy even if its operators are incompetent. Apparently Israel only managed to destroy a small part of the Syrian air defenses, even though they were probably incompetent.

    Your post was pretty good and informative, anyway, though I don’t think it takes away much from my points, it added a number of interesting details and a good and interesting description of the operation of air defenses.

    I would add an additional point, which is also very important. The main goal of an air defense system is never to destroy the enemy aircraft. The main goal is merely to protect your own assets. The destruction of the enemy aircraft is a nice bonus, and of course the method of protecting your own assets is by trying to destroy the enemy aircraft. But even if you don’t succeed in destroying the enemy aircraft, you could still consider yourself successful, if you forced the enemy to attack from farther away or more quickly than he’d normally do, or distracted him from properly employing his weapons, and thus prevented him from achieving his goals.

    It’s still not known with absolute certainty how successful the Yugoslav air defense was, because it’s still unknown how high losses the Yugoslav armed forces had to sustain. But it’s indicative of success that the NATO air forces never attacked from below 6000 meters, because it was considered too risky. Despite months of bombing, they never lowered it, which shows that they were probably not very good at destroying the Yugoslav air defense. It’s also interesting that they had to shift to attacking civilian targets after the campaign to destroy the military was deemed ineffective. They also abandoned the initially tentatively planned land campaign from Albania, which also indicates that they didn’t consider the Yugoslav armed forces to have been destroyed by several months of bombing.

    • Agree: Vendetta
    • Replies: @Vendetta
    , @Dmitry
  68. Vendetta says:
    @reiner Tor

    Actually yes, I have several more points to make on the difficulties Israel would have with destroying the Syrian air defense system, and with destroying the Russian task force in Syria, and on the difficulty of SEAD in general but they’ll have to wait till I’m home from work tonight.

    • Replies: @DreadIlk
  69. Dmitry says:
    @Daniel Chieh

    I think there’s no reason why Russia cannot target hangers with jets inside via cruise missile.

    Main Israeli airbases in the Negev, include underground aircraft shelters – which were designed during Cold War, by the same American army engineers who built Cheyenne Mountain complex.

    You can look in chapter 5. The design for these aircraft hangers, is precast concrete shells which are buried under the desert.

    http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a271594.pdf

    -

    And even some of their new SAMs are built in underground shelters. Likewise ICBMs.

    -

    Aside from that, you have to assume this fails.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David%27s_Sling

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow_3

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow_(Israeli_missile)

    -

    If you fight an opponent, from large distance, in an area where they are technologically advanced, and in some kind of massive risk (to reputation and popularity) with the goal only materialy damage?

    The cost of used F-16 is about $40 million each.

    On other hand, suspending visa free agreement with Israel, would cost the Israel’s economy billions of dollars, as Russians are currently the second most common tourists in Israel (how many billions of dollars, does half a million tourists spend per year?).

    A pattern of escalation would aim for something similar with what happened to Turkey. Eventually (within 7 months of November 2015) Turkey accepted defeat after some billions of dollars of economic losses.

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  70. Dmitry says:
    @reiner Tor

    For SEAD (without nuclear weapons) – it is relying on use of anti-radiation missiles, decoys, electronic warfare – and is overall a large air operation, even against quite backward countries.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  71. Beckow says:
    @Vendetta

    Agree. People focus too much on minutia and the staged media theater and they are missing what has been going on: Assad won the civil war in an extremely strategic (for the West) area. He won and now for the consequences.

    The losers are angry. Some would like to make the victory as costly as possible, some would like to have another go at it. I think it has come as a surprise to the masters that they could lose in Syria, they had pretty much everything on their side and they easily won similar conflicts before. Then they lost.

    When a top sports performer loses, they often throw a temper tantrum (ala Serena Williams), or try to go for a re-match immediately. But more often than not, once the top dog loses they keep on losing. The awareness that this is coming often drives people to insane, hard to explain behaviors. We get that today in spades from the Western leaders. This is not easy.

    • Agree: Vendetta
  72. utu says:
    @Vendetta

    What about mobile outhouses? Does the S-300 battalion have them as they are moving around? Because if they do not have them they might be reluctant to keep changing location having to dig out another latrine. OTOH the stench may prod them to move. I wonder if this aspect was considered when designing the operating procedure and tactics for the commander of the S-300 battalion.

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    , @Vendetta
  73. @utu

    One of the reasons the Swedish Army chose the Leopard 2 to replace the S-tank over the M1 Abrams was that Krauss-Maffei agreed to fit the tanks with toilets.

    • Replies: @utu
  74. Vendetta says:
    @utu

    I am so glad we let women join the army.

    No further comment.

  75. DreadIlk says:
    @Vendetta

    Wow great insights do continue and thank you.

  76. utu says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Sergeant to new recruits: Soldiers, what is the most important in the tank?
    Soldiers: Turret? gun? engine?…
    Sergeant: You are idiots. The most important in the tank is not to shit yourself.

    Is there a toilet in modern tanks like the M-1 Abrams or the Challenger 2?

    https://www.quora.com/Is-there-a-toilet-in-modern-tanks-like-the-M-1-Abrams-or-the-Challenger-2

  77. @Dmitry

    Main Israeli airbases in the Negev, include underground aircraft shelters – which were designed during Cold War, by the same American army engineers who built Cheyenne Mountain complex.

    Russia obviously has the munitions to blow through hardened shelters. If not the first missile, then second missile. If not the second, then the third, etc. The hangers aren’t going to dodge, drop, weave, roll or leave to go anywhere.

    The challenges here are not technical.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @Dmitry
  78. @Dmitry

    In other words, contrary to what you wrote a few months ago elsewhere, it won’t be all that easy for Israel to destroy the S-300 delivered to Syria.

  79. @Daniel Chieh

    The challenge is probably logistics and cruise missile production.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  80. @reiner Tor

    By the way if I were responsible for Russian armaments procurement, I’d probably order very large quantities of cruise missiles and other types of ammunition, and a very large portion of procurements would be set aside for this purpose. In a real shooting war, you cannot have enough of them (in both world wars within months if not weeks ammunitions crises set in for all warring parties involved), and you need them for practice (especially for exercises like the Vostok-18) as well. Of course the risk is theoretically that you’ll develop new weapons and then your ammo will be get obsolete over time, but that’s true of any procurement, including buying the latest newest shiniest weapons. Ammunition shelf life is also usually shorter than that of weapons. Of course then you’d get a lot of practice, as they could all be shot in practice shortly before they are discarded.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  81. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Vendetta

    Netanyahu wanted to ensure the Iranians didn’t stay. They won’t be staying. Everything else is just noise.

    • Replies: @peterAUS
  82. @for-the-record

    What rules would these be?

    The first rule of Facebook is that Facebook has no rules.

  83. neutral says:

    Check out this SJW insanity from Russia.

    https://www.rt.com/news/439420-bleach-st-petersburg-manspreading/

    This Anna Dovgalyuk is more than likely getting some kind of funding from the CIA/Soros types somewhere.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    , @g2k
  84. Dmitry says:
    @Daniel Chieh

    “Bunker busting” munitions exist, but they are not missiles, let alone cruise missiles (with their small warheads and lateral trajectory).

    These are large bombs, dropped from planes.

    Again, for this task (as for SEAD), you need a real airforce operation.

    You can’t do anything like this firing cruise missiles from thousands of kilometers away (unless firing ICBMs, preferably with nuclear warhead).

    -

    In the Cold War, the evolution for this scenario by the 1970s, was assumed to be primarily firing nuclear ICBMs.

    The aerial part of the attack – nuclear standoff cruise missiles fired from Tu-160 – which were even then not assuming the missile defense against standoff missiles which is being introduced in 2018.

  85. Dmitry says:
    @reiner Tor

    Cruise missiles very expensive. Current active models are the easiest and slowest kind of missile to intercept at long range (much more easily than tactical ballistic missiles). And also not very damaging warheads (unless they have nuclear warheads).

    So it’s less useful for conventional war against equal or higher powers. For areas like Kaliningrad, there’s more relevant the tactical ballistic missiles.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  86. @neutral

    Where is the Cossack thot patrol when you need it?

  87. @Dmitry

    I think if you had enough of them, you could simply overwhelm the air defenses. Like perhaps the air defense could easily destroy fifty or a hundred such missiles. But after that, the air defense would need new ammunition, which is probably not infinite. So if you could fire two hundred missiles on the same target all at once (or probably within a few minutes), you’d have a high chance of a hundred of them going through. So having a lot of such missiles could be used for saturation attacks.

    My numbers could be off (maybe it’s three hundred, maybe four hundred, maybe just a hundred and fifty), but in principle a large number of cruise missiles could be useful.

    • Replies: @LondonBob
  88. @for-the-record

    That’s the first explanation which would explain why the Kremlin didn’t reveal the real identities of these men. Had they been petty criminals (as suggested here by some), it’d have been easier to just reveal it. (Their business would be ruined anyway – there’s no chance they’d be able to continue smuggling steroids. Besides, it doesn’t even make much sense – couldn’t steroids be produced in Russia itself?)

    What I don’t like is that it only makes sense if they were definitely framed by MI6. Which is a pretty strong statement. In other words, it cannot really have been an accident or any other explanation (which looked very likely before), it was most likely false flag.

    So I don’t like this explanation, but at least it makes sense. However, the Kremlin would need to at least leak this information soon. Couldn’t they just leak the information through Novaya Gazeta?

  89. utu says:
    @LondonBob

    The scenario does not solve the problem why did they happen to be in Salisbury on that particular day. It would be too much of a coincidence. The story should include a possibility of them being lured to Salisbury by the false flag operation planner to have them as patsies in the false flag.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  90. @utu

    That’s one problem. However, it’s not a big problem if you assume it was a British false flag. The British intelligence services presumably knew of their arrival in advance, and used the opportunity to frame them.

    What I don’t like is that you’d have to assume it was a false flag. I think intelligence services are big bureaucratic institutions, and organizing any action leaves long paper trails. So the way I imagine them, I wouldn’t think false flags would be easy to execute for them.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @Thorfinnsson
  91. @reiner Tor

    Oh one more coincidence: Yulia’s arrival. So there are two coincidences here: the suspicious-looking Russians just arrived on the same day Yulia was there, and then the poisoning happened on the same day.

    So this makes me like this explanation even less. Not that any other explanation makes much more sense. The recent news from the British side (the prostitute and loud drinking party story, or the latest news about the British police not knowing what kind of visa the Russian pair had) didn’t raise my confidence in the British side of the story either.

    • Replies: @notanon
  92. @reiner Tor

    This article below calls into question the novichok sample found in the hotel room. Of course, if the novichok sample was fake news, then the case against the Russians rests on the pair visiting Salisbury in a strange manner on the exact day of the poisoning, and then leaving Britain. Also their plane tickets, which were very flexible tickets – normal tourists either don’t buy these, or if they do, then they won’t leave the country without checking out Stonehenge first.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-25/incredible-case-skripal-patsies-visas

  93. @reiner Tor

    Steve Sailer had a nice post about real conspiracies, citing the British ULTRA project (British cracking of the German Enigma cipher in WW2) as an example. It wasn’t publicly revealed until 1974, yet thousands of people were involved.

    The CIA later improved on this by creating the concept of a “conspiracy theory”.

    Whether or not the Skripal Affair was a false flag (I don’t care about Skripal) I have no idea. But you seem interested so keep digging.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  94. notanon says:

    Anyhow, I do hope the kremlins know what they are doing.

    It’s difficult fighting an information war when the western media has almost all the cards.

    Some weak spots to target are:

    1) genetic research: proving everything is hereditary will drive a wedge in the western elite between those who support the blank slate ideology for genocidal replacement immigration reasons and those who support it for what they believe are moral cost-benefit reasons (as the long term benefits greatly outweigh the short-term costs)

    2) economics: western economics is currently all bankster lies but no one is going to prove it cos career, research funding, fear of media etc – in particular the ludicrous idea that supply and demand doesn’t apply to wages which the neoliberal/SJW axis of evil have been pushing for decades

    3) gender dystopia: judo-flip the poz by producing wholesome and pro-natal kid’s entertainment where the girls look like girls and wear pretty clothes

    4) media censorship: create non-news websites with entertainment as the bait (movies, games, music etc) and below the surface lightly moderated politics sub-forums in various national languages so people can get around their own national media’s censorship

    (a great troll would be to call the entertainment website “Radio Free Europe”)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Free_Europe/Radio_Liberty

    • Agree: reiner Tor
  95. @Thorfinnsson

    The British ULTRA project was

    1) not illegal at all (so it wasn’t like a clandestine government program which, if exposed, would’ve resulted in convictions; not even if there was a revolution, or if the Nazis had occupied Britain, they’d have treated participants either as other civilians; or as specialists in possession exceptionally worthy knowledge, similar to how the Allies treated German rocket scientists; or as military personnel, i.e. POWs; they weren’t going to shoot or imprison them for their role in ULTRA)

    2) not unconscionable for any of the participants (i.e. they were happy to participate and there was no reason for them to find anything wrong with it)

    3) before the internet age (i.e. very difficult for whistleblowers to blow the whistle)

    4) most participants probably didn’t even fully understand (or rather, didn’t understand at all) what they were part of; there was also no way they could fill in the missing parts of the puzzle. Compare that to someone being told to produce novichok in a clandestine British (or even American, or Israeli, Ukrainian, or whatever) laboratory in February this year, and then reading about the Skripals in the papers a few weeks later.

    This is why it’s not really comparable to the kind of conspiracies which get labelled “conspiracy theories.”

    I agree some conspiracy theories have some truth to them (not necessarily fully true, just some truth), but probably most are completely false. Some theories are labelled conspiracy theories (e.g. Kevin MacDonald’s theory) which are, properly speaking, don’t even posit real conspiracies at all.

  96. notanon says:
    @Daniel Chieh

    Conan, what is best in life?
    Conan: To troll your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!

  97. notanon says:
    @reiner Tor

    Oh one more coincidence: Yulia’s arrival. So there are two coincidences here: the suspicious-looking Russians just arrived on the same day Yulia was there, and then the poisoning happened on the same day.

    documents being signed?

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  98. @notanon

    The explanation posits that they were couriers of some oligarch, completely unconnected to the Skripals, whose coming was seen as an opportunity to create a false flag by the British intelligence services, but who were unconnected to GRU or the Skripals.

    This falls apart if they were connected to Yulia.

    • Replies: @notanon
    , @for-the-record
  99. notanon says:

    i think all this talk about Russian vs Israeli military action is ignoring a critical aspect which is why did the Russians initially think missiles were being fired by a French ship?

    it might have been Israeli jets simply using it for cover but it could possibly have been a deliberate attempt to provoke Syria into attacking a NATO ship to bring the US into the war directly.

    (which could explain recon planes being specifically placed to watch for such attacks)

    so seems to me the neocons want to provoke Russia into actions which could be spun by the media as a direct attack – in which case it seems to me Russia is pretty much limited to only downing Israeli jets if/when they are clearly invading Syrian airspace.

    (which is bad news for the dudes in the recon planes but it’s a righteous way to die)

  100. LondonBob says:
    @reiner Tor

    Most of the cruise missiles in the second attack were intercepted by the Syrians.

  101. notanon says:
    @reiner Tor

    yes, whether oligarch or kremlin it was clearly connected to the Skripals

    most of the article that was posted up thread makes sense imo apart from that aspect

    https://southfront.org/another-version-attempting-to-explain-trip-of-gru-agents-petrov-and-boshirov-to-salisbury/

    (they’re clearly not homosexual and everything about them and their behavior (shared room etc) fits the idea of heavy-duty couriers) but Pooty’s quote

    we know who they are. I want to address them, let them appear and explain everything. it would be better for all

    implies to me that if it wasn’t the GRU then it was someone important enough for Pooty to not want to blame publicly – hence shady response.

    • Replies: @Beckow
  102. @reiner Tor

    What I don’t like is that it only makes sense if they were definitely framed by MI6

    Why MI6? I’ve never thought this was likely. If it is a “false flag”, my guess would be a “rogue” operation having something to do with the Russian dossier. Just like the CIA certainly didn’t assassinate JFK, although it is not inconceivable that certain elements of the CIA were involved.

    And as your subsequent comment points out, the one piece of real incriminating evidence (hotel novichok) is doubtful at best.

    • Replies: @notanon
  103. notanon says:
    @for-the-record

    Why MI6?

    priming people for another false flag gas attack in Syria this time blaming Russia directly and possibly using novichok (which would explain why they seemed so keen on getting the word implanted in the public mind beforehand)

    i assume avoiding this was the reason the attack on Idbil was postponed.

  104. @reiner Tor

    This falls apart if they were connected to Yulia.

    I think Yulia is the key to the whole story, and I think she could answer all (or most) of our questions. Read the transcript of her 1st phone conversation with her cousin (“everything’s fine”)

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/fb-5581859/Everythings-fine-alive-Transcript-Yulias-phone-call.html

    and the subsequent reports that she wants to return “soon” to Russia. Is this what one would expect if she really believed the Russian government had tried to kill her and her father?

    I don’t think her being in Salisbury is a coincidence, it is somehow the key to everything.

    She has disappeared totally, why?

    • Replies: @LondonBob
  105. Beckow says:
    @notanon

    It seemed obvious from the beginning that they were couriers. It explains their visas: there are people or institutions in UK/West who facilitated their visas, the sponsors don’t want to be disclosed, so there is no explanation by UK why two strange guys were given (rather hard to obtain) visas.

    I am not sure a link to Skripals has been established. It could also be a random coincidence, more strange things have happened. But a more likely scenario is that whatever they were ‘couriering’ was connected to Skripal, and that Julia flew in to explain it. Dropping off some documents on Saturday and coming back to pick them up on Sunday fits well.

    Could they also poisoned Skripals on their way out of town? Was there a disagreement? Did Skripal refuse something? Were other people involved who actually did it?

    • Replies: @notanon
    , @reiner Tor
  106. LondonBob says:

    Look at the effort to sheep dip LHO, credible patsies takes time and effort.

    These guys are good patsies but their movements are still more those of couriers, and there is still no link to the actual poisoning. Superficially credible assassins, which is all you need to convince people.

  107. peterAUS says:
    @Vendetta

    Good post overall.
    Especially

    The hard part is mastering several other things…..

    First of these is meticulous advance preparation.

    Second skill is unit discipline.

    Third skill to master is coordination, ability to not only operate your own weapon but to operate it as part of a a larger system….

    Last, and perhaps the most difficult of all to truly master, is good small unit leadership.

    Traditionally, Arab militaries of the last century have struggled with this (as well as with all the other things I mentioned earlier). Low human capital can explain some of this struggle, but only to an extent. Culture really does matter here.

  108. peterAUS says:
    @Tyrion 2

    Netanyahu wanted to ensure the Iranians didn’t stay. They won’t be staying. Everything else is just noise.

    Not……..quite.

    It’s about keeping immediate threat, by Hezbollah, at minimum.

    Link Hezbollah-Iran, through Syria, is what Israel has been working on.

    What Israel, ultimately, wants in Syria is a regime which does not support Hezbollah. Or no functioning regime.

    Or chaos as it is now. Simply having the current “setup” where Hezbollah is engaged there is quite O.K. for Israel. Longer is better.

    And as it looks like now, it will stay that way for quite some time.

    Partitioned Syria with partitions ready, at a moment notice, to resume hostilities.
    We haven’t seen the end of fighting still…….

    Next month, perhaps.
    Or next year……

  109. notanon says:
    @Beckow

    I am not sure a link to Skripals has been established. It could also be a random coincidence, more strange things have happened.

    true – i’ll change my point from “clearly” to “gut feel”

    Could they also poisoned Skripals on their way out of town? Was there a disagreement? Did Skripal refuse something? Were other people involved who actually did it?

    yes – lots of interesting questions

  110. g2k says:
    @neutral

    She’s picking on easy targets; everyone she soaked looked hipsterish, she wasn’t stupid enough to do that to anyone who might get up and punch her. If one of those guys had right hooked her, he’d be able to stand up in court and claim self defense: “strage person walked up and sprayed chemical on me, I thought it was acid and feared for my life m’lud”. She says she’s going to go to Moscow and kazan next. Vladikavkaz doesn’t have a metro, but it still has a dense tram network, I’d actually respect her if she was to try and pull that stunt there.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    , @Vendetta
  111. @g2k

    Only Makhachkala, only hardcore.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @g2k
  112. Am I too stupid or too smart for this kind of propaganda? I usually find it difficult to read it through thoroughly (or just reading it at all), and reading Bellingcat always makes me ever more skeptical of the British version. I mean, force feeding me Bellingcat seven times a week would easily convince me of Russian innocence in maybe just two weeks.

    https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/09/26/skripal-suspect-boshirov-identified-gru-colonel-anatoliy-chepiga/

    • Replies: @DFH
    , @for-the-record
  113. @Anatoly Karlin

    A Hungarian footballer, Balázs Dzsudzsák played for Anzhi Makhachkala for maybe half a season in 2011. He spent most of his time there injured. The team actually trained and spent most of the time in Moscow, they only traveled to Makhachkala for a couple days for the “home” matches.

  114. DFH says:
    @reiner Tor

    MI6 are not sending their best

  115. g2k says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Vkk is the only Kavkaz city with a mass transit network :p It’s physically impossible to manspread in a marshrutka.

  116. Apparently production of the S-500 will start relatively soon.

    https://sputniknews.com/russia/201809261068364467-russia-s-500-air-defense/

    Any opinions on its capabilities?

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  117. @Hyperborean

    Better?

    Frankly it’s not like we actually know what the S-400 (or even S-300) can do beyond published specifications.

    • Agree: utu, reiner Tor
    • Replies: @utu
  118. utu says:

    Salisbury ‘hitman’ is revealed as decorated GRU colonel who was awarded Russian military’s highest honour by Vladimir Putin after his service in Chechnya and Ukraine

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6210951/Smirking-Salisbury-hitman-unmasked-decorated-GRU-colonel.html

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  119. utu says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Or even at the published specifications level.

  120. @utu

    One problem with these Bellingcat claims is always the source for the passport database. Are all Russian passports available online for anti-Russian journalists, or how is it possible to get it? Where can we check its authenticity, or if these passport data were completely made up?

    The other problem is the claim that in Russia it’s only intelligence agents on an official mission who are allowed to travel under fake identities. That’s not what incompetent and corrupt intelligence services would look like. In fact, if it really was such an incompetent operation of the GRU, then how likely is it that such an incompetent intelligence service could control its corrupt members and prevent them from selling fake identities to well-connected oligarchs or even their former members (who would be buddies of current members)?

    But who knows. Of course the available information is consistent with Russian culpability, way more consistent than until the Boshirov/Petrov revelations. What’s worse, it’s more consistent with the known facts than other explanations, since all explanations will posit high levels of dysfunction in the Russian government.

    The other problem with the Bellingcat claims is that they don’t even mention any other explanations, be they unlikely as they are. (Or anyway not very favorable to Russia.) Why not? They are just investigative journalists who want to get to the bottom of the facts, not propagandists with some agenda, aren’t they? LOL

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    , @Tyrion 2
  121. @Beckow

    (rather hard to obtain) visas

    Are they so hard to obtain? I’d guess the majority of applicants with the means to travel there get a visa, though I haven’t seen any statistics on this.

    • Replies: @Beckow
  122. Anonymous[684] • Disclaimer says:

    Anatoly Karlin should not be alowed to put this Israel Propaganda on UNZ
    What a BS this is ?
    Even worse than his last article
    Shame on UNZ

    • Troll: reiner Tor
    • Replies: @Anonymous
  123. Anonymous[684] • Disclaimer says:
    @peterAUS

    Bravo! That is exactly 100 % my position
    Israel will soon restart bombing Syria and Putin the Pudel and Nutty his Boss have made already agreements
    If the Russian Military will continue eternaly this road is questionable

  124. LondonBob says:
    @for-the-record

    That Julia was also poisoned suggests a rushed or botched job more tied in with stopping Sergei fleeing, perhaps Julia negotiated a deal with the Russian authorities for her father and was seen as a legitimate target.

    My first thought on these two were they were couriers taking documents and money for Sergei to flee and they met them at midday Sunday when their phones were off, as was suggested by John Helmer’s article. I wouldn’t expect them to fly direct on the same plane, but maybe I am wrong about this, I have no special knowledge. They didn’t stay in Salisbury but far away so perhaps some elements of deception. They were gone from Salisbury two hours before the Skripals were attacked.

    Lured to Salisbury to be patsies is the other possibility.

    Huge coincidence, probably not.

  125. @reiner Tor

    Are all Russian passports available online for anti-Russian journalists, or how is it possible to get it?

    In all fairness, this is one of the more credible things in this affair.

    1. Numerous organs of the Russian state collects all sorts of personal data in quantities exceeding any rational need for it.
    2. Bureaucrats do not have a culture of disinterested public service.
    3. Underlings do not have a culture of going against superiors, reporting ethics violations, etc. At best they would simply be fired.
    4. Very weak privacy protections.

    So of course you are going to get all sorts of databases leaking out into the public. At one point you could openly buy them at the Gorbushka (one time pirated goods center). Now it’s all shifted to torrents.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  126. Tyrion 2 says:
    @reiner Tor

    They’re Russian intelligence operatives but their behaviour is radically inconsistent with individuals on a mission to perpetrate as high a profile crime as assasination using banned chemical weapons.

    I also wonder why they would wait for Yulia Skripal to leave Russia to try to kill her.

  127. Anonymous[684] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    reiner Tor… what you mean by Troll ?
    you agree with Anatoly Karlin ?? and all the rest is trolling ?

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  128. @Anonymous

    Well, you came here to this blog to comment that the blogger in question should be banned from this site. I understand that, strictly speaking, the word “troll” is normally reserved for a slightly different kind of commenter, but I used the word in a broader meaning, which is pretty usual.

    Otherwise of course it’s fine to disagree with him, many of us disagree with him on several points, even, for example, on this very article.

  129. @Anatoly Karlin

    Okay.

    So it means that it was a really major fuckup. A number of former or currently active intelligence operatives have been exposed by this unprofessional incident.

    Basically all explanations are very unfavorable to Russia, be it the “British version,” or some other explanation, they will invariably involve a lot of incompetence and corruption as part of the explanation. To be honest, I don’t think it’s necessarily a boon to humanity that such a country possesses almost half the nuclear weapons in existence.

    • Replies: @Jon0815
  130. Ghali says:

    As always, Anatoly Karlin is very ill-informed with his empty rant. Syria has already paid for the S-300 in 2013, but Russia refused to deliver and was in breach of the agreement. Putin and the criminal Netanyahu are friends and pressure from Israel and its Zionists forced Russia to delay delivery..

    • Replies: @Gerard2
  131. @reiner Tor

    Did you read Craig Murray’s analysis?

    “Boshirov” is probably not “Chepiga”. But he is also not “Boshirov”.

    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

  132. LondonBob says:
    @for-the-record

    They have a resemblance but are clearly different people, again more disinfo, why?

    • Replies: @for-the-record
  133. @for-the-record

    That’s good. I never liked the cocksure tone of Bellingcat based on what seemed to be thin evidence, though as seen above, I was wrong about which part of their evidence was the weakest. But it seems likely that “Boshirov” is, indeed, a GRU operative, even if there are some other possibilities, which are still not flattering to the Russians, though. I especially liked the tweets questioning the identification of White Helmets with jihadis based on photographs alone.

  134. @LondonBob

    again more disinfo, why?

    Because that is sufficient for the masses, the powers that be are not in the least worried what you think.

    I have British friends that I see every couple of months (they have a vacation home near me). Like most people they will have seen the original story, but not the debunking, and will confidently tell me (yet again) how evil Putin is.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  135. @for-the-record

    Let me add that the Russian propaganda effort seems highly inept, and so there’s little need for the Western/British side to create quality propaganda.

    • Replies: @Gerard2
    , @for-the-record
  136. Gerard2 says:
    @utu

    In 18 months there were 200 Israeli incursions/attacks on Syria. More than two per week on average. Only one time Syrian defenses succeeded shooting down Israeli plane.

    …and with the exception of this disgusting, and perhaps inevitable act that caused the IL-20 to be shotdown……what practical use do Israel’s attacks do to the S.A.A. overall objectives or Russia’s?

  137. Gerard2 says:
    @Ghali

    As always, Anatoly Karlin is very ill-informed with his empty rant. Syria has already paid for the S-300 in 2013, but Russia refused to deliver and was in breach of the agreement. Putin and the criminal Netanyahu are friends and pressure from Israel and its Zionists forced Russia to delay delivery..

    Russia did exactly the same with Iran 6 years ago when an S-300 delivery was placed and majority paid….but Russia didn’t deliver them because they went along with the sanctions on Iran.

    Israel doesn’t recognise Crimea, doesn’t play an helpful role for Russia in Georgia or Ukraine or Moldova ( in fact completely hostile)

    “Pressure from zionists” is correct…….”Putin and Netanyahu are friends” is nonsense, from what I see he gets on with him less well than other Israeli leaders since 2000…interesting to note that when all the western leaders were fellating eachother to go to the funeral of Shimon Peres a couple of years ago…Putin and Medvedev were nowhere to be seen. Considering all the big leaders from US,UK,France, Germany,Spanish king, Canada and the rest were there….to me that’s some sort of statement that neither went

  138. Gerard2 says:
    @reiner Tor

    Let me add that the Russian propaganda effort seems highly inept, and so there’s little need for the Western/British side to create quality propaganda.

    Well, RT from the bits I saw was genius about Syria for years, excellent on Ukraine at the beginning….but is now liberast garbage run by 5th columnists

    Russia domestic state news is the best in the world, Kiselyov is the greatest and many other good journalists too

  139. @reiner Tor

    Let me add that the Russian propaganda effort seems highly inept

    Much more than the PR aspect, what interests me is WTF really happened. I still find it difficult (impossible in fact) to believe that the the Russians (Putin) really tried to eliminate Skripal in this manner, but then what what were Boris and Natasha really up to in Salisbury? None of the explanations I have seen ultimately makes much sense:

    1. coincidence

    2. false flag — if they were somehow “lured” to Salisbury, there must be evidence of this and it would definitely be in the interests of the Russians to provide it

    3. they were on a mission to contact Skripal in view of his desired “defection” to Russia — again there must be some evidence of this, and it would be even more obviously in the interest of Russia to reveal it

    4. they were couriers of some sort — possible perhaps, but this either had something to do with Skripal (in which case 2 and/or 3 apply) or not (case 1).

    Overall, not a very satisfactory state of affairs.

    • Replies: @notanon
  140. Beckow says:
    @reiner Tor

    My understanding is that it is a lengthy, costly and documents-heavy process. Unless those 2 guys had multiple entry visas, it made no sense to do that for a 2-day visit. Too much uncertainty for the work involved. If they were sponsored by a business partner in UK, it would be much faster and more reliable. The fact that UK hasn’t released any info about their visas suggests that there is something there to hide.

    The 2-day ‘tourist’ story makes no sense. But a 2-day trip to kill Skripals while openly travelling together also doesn’t make sense.

  141. @reiner Tor

    Well put. These trucks can be moved quickly, need some sort of intel on where they all are, then you got to put planes at risk to take them out. Syrians already downed an F 16 and damaged an F 35 with the S 200. Will do real damage if the Zionists go after the S 300. Plus Russia is jamming for them now and sharing radar.

  142. @Anon

    Faux-Cyrillic is obnoxious.

  143. notanon says:
    @for-the-record

    2. false flag — if they were somehow “lured” to Salisbury, there must be evidence of this and it would definitely be in the interests of the Russians to provide it

    right – if it was a setup the real reason they were there must have been as bad (from a spin point of view) as a botched assassination.

  144. Jon0815 says:
    @reiner Tor

    So it means that it was a really major fuckup. A number of former or currently active intelligence operatives have been exposed by this unprofessional incident.

    Basically all explanations are very unfavorable to Russia, be it the “British version,” or some other explanation, they will invariably involve a lot of incompetence and corruption as part of the explanation.

    The explanation which I think makes the most sense, in which Bashirov and Petrov’s involvement is not incompetence:

    This was a rogue operation by a small number of hardliners in GRU, designed to embarrass Putin and increase tensions with the West. Although these rogue operatives wanted Russia to look guilty, they also didn’t want to be identified and caught. So they arranged for Bashirov and Petrov (couriers or something) to be in Salisbury on the day of the attack, as patsies to distract attention from the real assassin(s), who struck only minutes before the Skripals collapsed, not hours earlier via doorknob. The doorknob novichok was more deliberate misdirection.

    The only “fuckup” in this scenario is the failure to kill Skripal, which wasn’t the primary objective anyway (or they would have just used a much simpler and reliable method such as bullet or car bomb, not exotic poison).

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