Russian base at Hmeimim to be upgraded, and permanent

“It seems that overall, Russia has lost patience with the Western double game.”

Karine Bechet-Golovko, in Russie-politics August 13, 2016
Translated from French by Tom Winter August 16, 2016

In the “crisis of confidence” affecting Russian-American relations (or rather, the necessary confrontation with reality), Russia responds very simply to the the unconditional support provided by the United States to Syrian rebels fighting against President Assad: Russia will strengthen the Hmeimim base in Syria and make it permanent.

The announcement came on August 11 from Russian senator Frantz Klintsevich: Russia will modernize its base, both militarily and as regards the living conditions. The legislative bill has been entered.”Its legal status once defined, Hmeimim will be a base for Russian armed forces, an appropriate infrastructure will be built, and our military can live in decent conditions.”

It is an entire permanent base and not a temporary structure that Russia intends to implement. This idea of modernizing the base structures is not new, but dates back to 2015. But the idea of a possible collaboration with the US coalition seems to have stopped it. 

The illusions eventually fall and the context makes this strengthening inevitable in order to actually fight against terrorism. Since the intervention in Syria, Russia has already performed more than 9,000 combat flights, besides the bombers sent for punch operations and missile launches. 

The effectiveness of the Russian intervention in Syria is not seriously disputed. It is the geopolitical in impact, which derives precisely from this efficiency, which gets most attention from Anglo-Saxon analysts: the position of Russia is strengthening vis-a-vis the US. And enough to cast a shadow.

We should take note of the New York Times article of August 6, which emphasizes the Russian military victory in Syria, despite the CIA and Saudi Arabia being involved with the rebels to topple Assad — Not to fight against Daesh. Russia overturned the balance of forces:

“The rebel offensive was aided by powerful tank-destroying missiles supplied by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia.

Intelligence assessments circulated in Washington that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, was losing his grip on power.

But then the Russians arrived, bludgeoning C.I.A.-backed rebel forces with an air campaign that has sent them into retreat. And now rebel commanders, clinging to besieged neighborhoods in the divided city of Aleppo, say their shipments of C.I.A.-provided antitank missiles are drying up.”

For the first time since Afghanistan, the newspaper notes, Russia dares to directly challenge the United States. This military victory led to a political victory: to force the United States, if not actually to cooperate, at least to take Russia into account. But Obama and his administration resist and continue to reject all Russian attempts at cooperation. The reason given is the lack of confidence. But of course, there can not be cooperation when there is rivalry of forces, where the goals and interests differ. That’s why you see all these declarations:

But even Mr. Obama has expressed wariness about an enduring deal with Moscow. “I’m not confident that we can trust the Russians or Vladimir Putin,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference on Thursday. “Whenever you are trying to broker any kind of deal with an individual like that or a country like that, you have got to go in there with some skepticism.”

For its part, Russia also speaks openly about the lack of US cooperation will on the subject of Syria. In response, the transformation of Hmeimim. It is further clarified that, so as not to violate international agreements and not to cause too strong negative reactions, the base will not permanently host nuclear weapons. Which therefore does not exclude their presence on a temp basis … Like the bombers. All of which can not but strongly influence the balance of power in the region.

To this add the return of Turkey, which has finally closed its border. The Syrian army continues to advance. It has taken out more than 60 extremists near Palmyra in combats, while the moderates of al-Nusra, supported by the international community, massacred families of “opponents” in Aleppo who wanted to get out of town by the corridors for humanitarian aid implemented by Russia. The account is more than 40 dead.

A major part has been advanced on the international stage, especially when you put this decision into the perspective of the hardening of tone towards Ukraine and the strengthening of the Crimea which will also see its military capabilities enhanced. 

It seems that overall, Russia has lost patience with the Western double game.

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