Since Spring 2014, at least 20,000 Russian civilians in Donbass have been killed by Ukrainian artillery. The Ukrainian artillery campaign continues up to the present day.

In November 2015, a Turkish Air Force F-16 shot a Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24 down over Syrian airspace.

Last night, a Russian Ilyushin IL-20 reconnaissance-plane was shot down over the Mediterranean, resulting in the deaths of all 14 crew-members.

The Russian Defence Ministry accused the Israeli Air Force of being responsible, alleging that Israeli F-16’s had set the Russian aircraft up by using its larger radar cross-section as a shield against Syrian S-200 air-defence systems. Other sources allege that the Russian reconnaissance-plane was shot down by the French frigate “Auvergne.”

First things first, regarding last night – if it was the Israelis, then they were clearly acting contrary to their own national interest. Such an action would make sense only if it were explained in terms of Israel playing the role of a US proxy.

Sometimes Israel has too much influence on US foreign policy, and sometimes it’s vice versa. If the Israelis played any role in the downing of the Russian plane last night, then the US was the puppet-master. It served no strategic interest for Israel.

Remember Michael Morell’s interview with Charlie Rose a few years ago?
Morell argued that the US should find ways to use the body-bags deterrent against both Russia and Iran in Syria.

Indirectly, of course.

In any case, there is an overarching strategic logic to this sorry litany of provocations against Russia which we’ve seen over the past 4 years.

Putin is an exceptionally cool customer – it’s impossible to provoke him.
Everybody knows that, right?

Humanitarian crisis in Donbass, a population of Russian civilians being terrorized, tens of thousands killed by Ukrainian artillery – on crucial levels –  Putin doesn’t react.

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The Russian military intervenes directly during the battle of Ilovaisk in 2014, and discreetly supplies both training and hardware to the DPR nd LPR in an attempt to moderate the conflict, but the humanitarian crisis and the Ukrainian artillery-campaign against civilians continues.

The Turks shoot the Sukhoi Su-24 down – Putin doesn’t react.

Last night’s debacle – Putin doesn’t react.

So if everybody knows that Putin is just too cold-blooded to be provoked or lured into a trap, then why are they continuously trying to provoke him? From the perspective of the western alliance, what’s the point exactly?

I believe that this is the point:

It’s about 2024.

The Russian people are more hot-blooded than Putin, so every time he doesn’t react to another provocation, it erodes his political legitimacy inside Russia just a little. Ordinary Russians start thinking out loud, saying
– “You know, as good as Putin has been overall these past 18 years, it’s at times like these I almost half-wish that somebody like Rogozin was president….

The ultimate purpose of this litany of outrageous provocations against Russia which we’ve seen over the past 4 years is all about preparation for 2024. It’s about attempting to gradually weaken Putin’s political legitimacy inside Russia, so that whichever successor he chooses will not be automatically secure. It’s all essentially about preparing the ground for the attempted political destabilization of Russia upon Putin’s retirement in 2024. This, in turn, would be a precursor to the economic re-colonization of Russia.

It’s cynical, but that’s their playbook.


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