colonel cassad

Ukrainian question. Waiting for changes
Boris Rozhin, Analytical Service of Donbass, also Colonel Cassad, Oct 15 2021

The kidnapping of a Russian citizen who worked as an observer of the JCCC in the area of the disengagement of forces “Golden-5” was a clear illustration of the theses of Medvedev’s recent article that there is nothing to talk about with Ukraine in general. Not that Medvedev’s article contained some new things, on the contrary, it was a compilation of well-known theses that Ukraine has not determined its fate for a long time and does not have the proper subjectivity to determine it. And if so, it makes sense to talk to those who decide something in Ukraine, and there is nothing to talk about with those who decide nothing. The article appeared on the eve of negotiations with Nuland, which, despite sanctions, was allowed to enter Moscow, where Ukraine itself was also discussed without Ukraine itself.

Discussion of Ukraine and its future in the absence of Ukraine itself has long been a good tone reflecting Ukraine’s real place in the system of international relations. Therefore, in Moscow, this moment was once again purposefully articulated before negotiations with Nuland, and the US, despite the fact that they constantly declare in public rhetoric about the “right of Ukraine to determine its own fate,” in fact, as in the case of the discussion of Nord Stream 2 with Germany, are easily discussing the future of Ukraine with Russia. Of course, the US would be more profitable than a scheme where Russia negotiates with Ukraine, which the US is openly manipulating. But since this scheme did not pass, and the problems of relations with the Russian Federation require discussion, the US on its own initiative began to discuss the situation in Ukraine with the Russian Federation, although formally Washington did not depart from the original demands for Russia to surrender its positions in Ukraine and Crimea.

This does not mean that something has changed in the current strategic impasse. This only showed that the US will lead its line in Ukraine without taking into account Ukraine’s opinion. Not that it was a big secret, but the Biden administration has purposefully demonstrated it in recent months, neglecting Zelensky and periodically indicating him his real place. Since Kiev puppets fear that they may fall victim to some agreements in which they do not participate, they on the one hand try to please the current administration, and on the other hand reproduce primitive provocations in Donbass or on the border with Crimea in order to maintain the degree of conflict and attract attention. And now, against the background of the ongoing offshore scandal in Ukraine, Nazi rallies and marches and persecution of the opposition, Kiev saw that the US, for its reasons, is trying to agree on something with the Kremlin, without particularly caring about what it will look like in Ukraine. Therefore, during Nuland’s visit, shelling intensified on the front line, and then a Russian citizen was kidnapped. Of course, this does not bring Zelensky closer, but distances Zelensky from meeting with Putin.

Moreover, the day after the capture of the CCCC observer, it was stated that negotiations through the Normandy format foreign ministries had not led to success and there were no prerequisites for a meeting of the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine. Russia still reminds that the agreements of the 2019 summit have not yet been implemented (the only time Zelensky met with Putin, but reduced everything to the mythical kidnapping of toilets from Poroshenko’s “wolf pack” ships), and Ukraine has not fulfilled its obligations under Minsk-2, then there is no point in meeting for the second time. At the same time, Ukraine officially declares that it now considers only the “Normandy format” to be the only negotiating format. As you can guess, with this position, there will simply be no substantive negotiations, just as there will be no substantive negotiations between Ukraine and the LDPR. Only episodic meetings with a programmable outcome “agreed to negotiate further” will be possible.

Of course, if Russia and the US had concluded any deal on Ukraine, Washington has enough leverage to adjust Ukraine’s position in any direction convenient for them. But at the moment we are not talking about such deals between Moscow and Washington. Following Nuland’s visit, the parties restrainedly announced some progress that may result in some easing of diplomatic war and continuing contacts on a number of issues, such as “strategic stability,” “arms race” and “Chinese issue.” The position of both sides on Ukraine is well known, and it is unlikely that it can be resolved by any compromises purely on the Ukrainian issue, especially since the US, which controls most of Ukraine, does not consider it necessary to make serious concessions, but on the contrary, demand such concessions from Russia, which makes it difficult for any practical negotiations.

But if you move to the macro level, everything is getting more interesting here, as those circles in the American establishment are quite strong who believe that the US needs to focus on the conflict with China for world hegemony, and for this it is important to prevent the formation of a full-fledged Russian-Chinese military-political alliance, which, from the point of view of part And if so, it is necessary to freeze the conflict with Russia, including through the division of spheres of influence, where Ukraine is already considered as a bargaining item and a bargaining chip, among other issues that no longer look like a priority in terms of confrontation with China. Therefore, White House contacts with the Kremlin in Ukraine are constantly perceived as a potential risk of some behind-the-scenes transactions, where Ukraine is simply exchanged for something if the anti-Chinese course becomes pressure in American politics.

And in this regard, the weak resistance of the Biden administration to the completion of Nord Stream 2, similar to the escape from Afghanistan, the creation of an anti-Chinese alliance between the US, Britain and Australia, Biden’s disdain for negotiations with Zelensky, the publication of a compromise on Zelensky by Soros structures and, finally, Nuland’s visit to Moscow, all together looks quite alarming for the regime in Kiev. Therefore, they are trying not only to attract attention to the intensification of the war in Donbass or provocations on the border of Crimea, but also to give trump cards to those circles of the American establishment that believe that the US should not ease pressure on Russia, but on the contrary, to increase pressure on it to force Moscow to make peace in Ukraine on American terms, which the US has unsuccessfully sought for 7 years through sanctions and a diverse campaign of pressure on Russia.

Zelensky and Co here simply copy Poroshenko’s actions as part of the ongoing narrowing of the space of decisions, when, in addition to speculating on the war with Russia, it is impossible to explain to the narrowing electorate the failures in domestic and foreign policy and unfulfilled election promises. As a result, the degraded copy of Poroshenko faces growing internal problems, and on the other hand, he faces problems in the external control loop, which is increasingly concerned not with Ukraine, but about other cases. And since minor provocations such as shelling a kindergarten or interrupted water pipeline do not have the proper effect, you need blood (whether your own or someone else’s) or very impudent provocations, such as blowing up a gas pipeline in Crimea, breaking through the Kerch Strait or capturing a Russian observer, so that after a response (whatever it is) you cry out about Russian aggression again. In the case of a captured CCCC officer, they yelled about Russian aggression even before any official reaction, which clearly shows what propaganda campaign Zelensky’s gang plans to promote. Therefore, there is really nothing to talk to her (unlike the US), these are temporary workers who will act under the external control loop within the framework of the most hostile course for the Russian Federation, forming threats both for the Russian Federation as a whole and for individual Russian citizens in particular. And as practice shows, such problems are not solved by themselves, just as the problem of a stolen citizen of the Russian Federation will not be solved by itself. It’s not enough just to sit and wait, it is necessary to make certain efforts to eliminate the threat to Russia in general and to individual citizens of the Russian Federation in particular.

A look from Egypt at the Syrian situation and Russia’s role in Syrian affairs
Colonel Cassad, Oct 15 2021

How was Russia able to establish control over military and security forces in Syria?
Ali Fayyad, Insomi.ru, Oct 15 2021

Russia uses Syria to restore its influence and position as a superpower in the international arena, which it lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is working to strengthen its position on the diplomatic world map, using her presence and influence in Syria as a lever of pressure on Western and U.S. countries during the discussion of controversial issues and in order to achieve international recognition of her global role. It is in this context that we consider the military and political support provided by the Russian regime to Assad, especially after Russia’s direct military intervention in Syria in 2015. Russia has launched a military campaign in Syria to achieve its regional and international strategic goals, not to realize the aspirations of the Syrians. Moscow had to tighten control over the security and military structures of the Syrian regime so that its military and political victories would serve Russian interests and plans for the future in the region. Russia made great efforts to restructure the army and security forces of the Syrian regime, took control of the training and equipment of most military formations, and also created new units directly related to it in order to subsequently fully control the decisions of the Syrian army.

Russian steps to dominate the army and law enforcement agencies

Russia worked to expand its influence in the military structures of the Syrian regime, attracting loyal Assad officers to it and strengthening their presence in important positions. It also initiated large-scale personnel changes in the country’s government and security forces, excluding persons associated with Iran in the light of competition between Tehran and Moscow for control over the military and security structures of the Syrian regime. In 2018, Ali Abdullah Ayub, who previously served as Chief of the General Staff, replaced Fahed Jasem Al-Frej as Syrian Defense Minister, leaving the post of Chief of the General Staff vacant – a precedent that has not been observed in the Syrian army since its inception in 1946. It should be noted that the head of the National Security Bureau, Major General Ali Mamluk, was also promoted at the request of the Russians. In addition, personnel changes affected the General Staff, the 1st Corps, the Air Force, military intelligence and several air defense units. Russia is trying to limit the influence of armed forces, which refuse to obey its demands. This mainly applies to pro-Iranian militias, namely the 4th Division, headed by Maher Assad. Several times it was reported that the conflict between the Russian military and Maher Assad had been escalated after he ignored Moscow’s demands for the withdrawal of 4th Division fighters from strongholds near the ports of Tartus and Latakia, as well as from checkpoints on the border with Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan.

In addition, she regularly conducts military exercises (air and ground) for officers and fighters of the Syrian regime, and also sends officers loyal to Russia to improve their skills. Russia is also making great efforts to control the situation with pro-Iranian militias. It includes them in the regular troops of the Syrian regime, trying to weaken Iran’s growing influence, and disbands pro-Iranian groups, such as the National Defense Forces. Moscow is expanding its influence in the conscription sector to attract young Syrians to the ranks of established and recently restored units, such as the 4th, 6th and 5th Corps, which are considered Russian armed forces in Syria. Several brigades supported by Russia were created with the permission of the Syrian Ministry of Defense. They are equipped with advanced equipment and weapons. According to a report published by Strategy Watch in 2018, Russia has implemented a number of measures to strengthen supervision of the restructuring process of the Syrian army, including the following:

  • Reorganization of the Organization and Management Division of the Department of Officers’ Affairs, which was renamed the Department of Human Resources.
  • Taking control of the conscription sector by establishing a Department for public conscription. Major General Sami Mahal was appointed head, whose main goal is to prevent attempts by the 4th Division and Iranian militia to recruit “youth for reconciliation.”
  • Rebuilding of the 1st Tank Division under the command of Major General Zuhair Assad.
  • The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation approved a restructuring plan for the 3rd Division and other armored divisions.
  • Association of the “National Defense Forces” with the 4th Assault Corps.
  • Amendments to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and security services.
  • Strengthening Russian control over the Air Force and Air Defense.

The importance of controlling military structures

Russia sought to combine hostilities with the active search for a political settlement. After she managed to stabilize the Syrian regime’s position and prevent its military fall, she began to work to transform her military weight into a political one to promote her own vision and approach to the Syrian dossier. The establishment of control over the military and security structures of the Syrian regime, as well as their restructuring, seems to correspond to the Russian vision of a political solution. This is consistent with Russia’s tireless attempts to push the West to recognize its military and political achievements and ability to achieve long-term stability in Syria. Thanks to its influence on political and military decision-making, it will be able to strengthen its diplomatic presence in the regional and international arenas. On the other hand, the importance of restructuring the army and the dominance of Russians in military and law enforcement agencies is related to the nature of the Russian presence in Syria. Russia tried to use its army in Syria as little as possible, instead relying on the military structures and security services of the Assad regime in order to reduce the cost of participation in the Syrian war and avoid getting into the “Syrian swamp”. She also tried to block the way for active players, especially Iran, which is fighting Russia for influence in Syria.

Obstacles and difficulties

Russia faces many obstacles and difficulties, the most important of which are: the weakness of military and security structures, as well as their low technical and organizational level. The study entitled “Development of the Syrian Armed Forces: Main Trends and Problems”, prepared by the Russian Council for International Affairs (INF), states:

The Syrian Armed Forces lack discipline, centralization, technical and organizational modernization, authority, and they cannot be called a real army.

The Iran-Russian confrontation is gradually reaching new levels. It is a good excuse to strengthen Russia’s position in the military and security structures of the Syrian regime, but at the same time it hinders its efforts to restructure the Syrian army. Although countries continue coordination and cooperation in Syria, the number of their differences has increased markedly. This “hidden conflict” manifests itself most vividly in the military sphere. Tehran relies on its militias, which are engaged in spreading Iranian influence in the military and security structures of the Syrian regime. He introduces his militias into the ranks of government forces, strengthens relations with prominent military commanders such as Maher Assad, Talal Mahlouf, Jamil Hassan and others, using them as a lever of pressure on Russia. It should also be noted that the position of the Syrian regime represents a real obstacle to the realization of Russia’s “colonialist” ambitions. The Assad regime opposes Russia’s support for some Syrian figures, and it is also dissatisfied with its attempts to expand its influence in the country’s military and security structures. This, of course, affected relations between Russia and the Assad regime. In addition, the Syrian regime relies on its Iranian ally to balance Russia’s pressure and takes countermeasures in response to its actions. After all, despite all the above, Russia was able to expand its control over the military and security structures of the Syrian regime, which allowed it to control and guide their decisions in accordance with its strategic vision.

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Comment by Colonel Cassad

It is worth noting that throughout the Syrian campaign, the existing objective friction in relations between the Russian Federation and Iran (and not only Syria) eventually given way to pragmatic cooperation on a number of other issues. And the collapse of the Russian-Iranian partnership so desired by the United States and Israel never happened, although back in 2017, the near-Pentagonian circles noted that the collapse of Russian-Iranian cooperation in Syria is one of the main goals of American policy in Syria. With regard to Assad, his balance between Russia and Iran shows that he is not a Russian or Iranian puppet, but having weak cards in his hands, maneuvers between the allies in the Syrian war in order to maintain his subjectivity, which Moscow and Tehran are forced to reckon with. Well, the restructuring and retrofitting of the Syrian army at the expense of Russia allowed to avoid a larger land participation of the Russian Armed Forces in the Syrian war, which fit into the concept of “reasonable sufficiency,” which the Russian Armed Forces have adhered to in Syria since 2015.

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