More analysts have echoed FRN's claim, while Russian bases in Syria may soon have automatic surveillance systems


Published on: Sep 21, 2018 @ 10:13 – According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, the Russian consortium Kalashnikov has proposed that Russian bases in Syria be equipped with automatic surveillance systems.

“The Kalashnikov consortium has proposed a number of technical solutions, automatic systems will be installed to carry out surveillance,” said Borisov, who added that there is already work to put these measures into practice.

The question of vigilance had been raised earlier by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who ordered more vigilance at the Russian bases of Hmeymim and Tartus. In addition, the Russian Ministry of Defense has shown that it is aware of security issues, especially after a Russian plane Il-20 was shot down over the Mediterranean near the coast of Syria on September 17, according to Borisov.

FRN proposed that one purely military-strategic aim of the French downing of the IL-20, ascribed falsely to Syria, was to see how Russia would ‘plug the gap’ created by not having an IL-20. This appears to be a procedure aimed at that.


In addition, Russia has also formally stated that their IFF system did not fail. However Russia is overtly implying that because the Russian-built Syrian S-200 system which both Russia and the West alleges was involved in the downing Russian IL-20 did not have Russian codes, the IFF question did not come into play.

It is important to note that this is not stated explicitly, with reference to FRN’s piece explaining how Russian media and official statements are designed, also the same piece which explained that France was most likely the country which downed the IL-20, not Syria. 

Both the independent analyst Pepe Escobar and the respected Tom Luongo of Strategic Culture Foundation have come forward to echo FRN’s assessment that it was France which most probably down the Il-20.

Luongo explains:

My hat is off to Joachin [sic] Flores for his analysis here.  It is long and involved and worth your time to read.  I will summarize it here.  His thesis?  Putin is trying to save Russian/French relations by not naming France as the culprit for the lost plane and the 15 men.

That Russia noted French missile launches but didn’t say what or who they hit.  And before the Russians said anything about the attack the French denied they had any involvement in the attack.

Instead, Russia went along with the story the U.S. prepared in advance, which doesn’t fit what facts we know about the situation, that Syrian Air Defenses shot down the IL-20 by mistake.

Both the French denial and the U.S. statements about Syrian air defenses being the culprit came before anything official came from the Russians.

This is a classic “preparing the narrative” technique used by the West all the time.  Seize the story, plant seeds of doubt and put your opponent into a rhetorical box they can’t wiggle out of with the truth.

MH-17, Skripal, Crimea, chemical weapons attacks in Ghouta, Douma etc.  These operations are scripted.

And Flores is exactly right that this script was going off as planned with one small problem.

The Russians went along with it.

Russia, and Putin, did the one thing that makes this whole thing look like a frame job, it accepted the narrative of Israeli malfeasance in the interest of stopping a wider conflict by accusing and/or attacking a NATO member, France.

Flores makes the salient point that the S-200 friendly fire scenario is highly unlikely.  That, in fact, France shot down the plane, was prepared to accept blame (which it did by preemptively denying it was involved) and destroy what was left of Russian/French relations.

Regarding the latest Russian announcement:

“The IFF system of state recognition used by Russia is only used by aircraft and air defense systems identified as Russian. There have never been any precedents for the transfer of such a system, together with Russian identification codes, to another state, and in principle cannot be,” Konashenkov said.

This is an important proviso to make, even if they have little relation to actuality, for several reasons.

- Advertisement -

  1. Russia will continue to sell its advanced SAM systems, particularly the S series (S-400, etc.) and it is important that countries purchasing these have extreme confidence that Russia cannot ‘control’ who they target. Turkey would not buy S-400’s from Russia if they could not be used against Russian planes.
  2. Russia cannot at this time remind audiences, especially its own, that the Russian command at Lattakia is integrated, and that attacks on the Lattakia base were also attacks on Russian personnel and assets immediately on the ground at that base. For this would mean that regardless of what the French frigate hit, (IL-20 or Lattakia base), it hit Russian assets and hit, or risked hitting, Russian personnel. The Russian popular electorate would call for Putin to order an anti-French response, even as this is geopolitically unwise.
  3. Konashenkov makes two sentences, each must be taken as stand-alone statements – placing them together as a single argument is in error, there is no ‘therefore’, or ‘as such’ used at the start of the second sentence.
  4. It is important that Russia communicate that there is no problem with their IFF systems working under complex real-time combat scenarios with multiple actors engaged.
  5. This statement still does not contradict the most probable theory, which is that the French FREMM frigate, equipped with the relatively advanced SAM called the Aster, actually shot down the Russian IL-20.

The main problem here is that FRN’s sources on the ground, within the SAA, as well as past confirmed reports published across Syrian media, confirm that the Lattakia command is integrated, meaning that they along with Russia share a command room. This has several implications.

  1. The official Russian statements are not, on the face ‘untrue’. They simply connect sentences in such a way that are misleading. It is likely enough that the SAA’s S-200 system itself is not equipped with matching IFF transponder receivers at Lattakia. But with Russian command personnel there at the same location, sharing a command center, a secondary analogue to this process involving only one-additional real-time information relay (Russians telling Syrians in the same room ‘that’s our plane’) is that all is required, and in fact present, to act identically to having equipped matching transponders.
  2. This whole way of approaching the story allows Russia to continue two narratives seen in Russian state or synergy media, one that the Syrian’s accidentally targeted the IL-20 with their S-200, the other that the SAA correctly targeted the Israeli F-16’s, but that these F-16’s led the missile to the IL-20 in a ‘Top Gun’ maneuver. Could either or both have happened, concurrently? Yes. Is this the most likely explanation? No.

At the time the Russian aircraft was shot down, an Israeli attack on facilities in Latakia occurred. Four Israeli F-16 fighters used the Russian airliner as a shield, the official story goes, causing the Syrian anti-aircraft system to launch missiles at the Russian aircraft, which allegedly resulted in the collapse and death of 15 Russian military personnel. While one can imagine this taking place, realizing that the IL-20’s presence was more than known to the SAA air defense, means that there would not have been an attempt to hit the Israeli F-16’s with the IL-20 in the near vicinity.


Consequently, the Russian Ministry of Defense described the actions as intentional and hostile, stating that it reserves the right to respond adequately against Israel. He expressed regret over the case and emphasized that the fall of the Russian aircraft is the total responsibility of Damascus, as well as Iran and the Hezbollah Shi’ite movement.

Russia’s investigative committee said on Tuesday it had opened an investigation into the crash of the Il-20 reconnaissance plane.

“The main investigation department of the Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal investigation into the crash of the Il-20 aircraft in the Mediterranean Sea,” said spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko.

According to Petrenko, the committee’s investigators and criminologists work together with the Russian Ministry of Defense at the scene of the incident.

“All the circumstances and the causes of the incident are being established,” the spokeswoman added.


Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up here to get the latest news, updates and special offers delivered directly to your inbox.