John R. Schindler:
Relations between Russia and Turkey have been dismal since late November, when a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian bomber on the border with Syria, killing its pilot. That began a war of words between Moscow and Ankara that ought to concern everyone, since the former has several thousand nuclear weapons and the latter is a member of NATO.
Kremlin propaganda against Ankara has increased of late, setting the stage for further confrontation. As I explained here last week, Russian media outlets initially blamed the Sinai crash of Metrojet 9268 last autumn on the Islamic State, an atrocity which killed 224 innocents, nearly all of them Russians—a quite plausible claim. However, the Kremlin has abruptly shifted course and now blames the mass murder on Turkish ultranationalist terrorists, without any evidence provided to support that explosive assertion.
Where things may be going between Russia and Turkey, ancient enemies who have warred many times over the centuries, was evidenced this week, when the Kremlin announced large-scale surprise military exercises in the regions of the country that are close to Turkey. Troops were moved to full combat readiness, the last stage before a shooting war, with Sergei Shoygu, the Russian defense minister, announcing on TV: “We began our surprise check of the military preparedness in the Southwest strategic direction.”
That would be the direction of Turkey. These snap exercises involve the Southern Military District and the navy’s Black Sea Fleet, which are deeply involved in Russia’s not-so-secret secret war in eastern Ukraine. However, they also involve the navy’s Caspian Sea flotilla, which is nowhere near Ukraine.
It’s difficult to see how Turkey could stand idly by as an ancient city of two million is crushed just fifty miles from its frontier.
This implies that the snap exercises, which have been prominently featured in Kremlin media, are about Turkey, not Russia. This goes back to recent events on the ground in Syria, where the Kremlin-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad is slowly crushing its opponents, thanks to prodigious military help from both Russia and Iran. Regime forces are closing in on Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, and 50,000 civilianshave already fled the city in panic.
The Russian military displays scant regard for civilian casualties. Mr. Putin’s air force killed almost 700 Syrian civilians last month (to compare, the Islamic State killed less than a hundred Syrian civilians in January), and if the crushing of the Chechen capital of Groznyy in 1994-95, when Russian forces killed roughly 35,000 Chechens, mostly civilians, in just six weeks, is any guide, residents of Aleppo are wise to get as far away as they can.
Needless to add, such a bloody siege of Aleppo would set off a humanitarian crisis that the world could not fail to notice. It’s difficult to see how Turkey could stand idly by as an ancient city of two million is crushed just fifty miles from its frontier.
That is precisely the scenario that has seasoned analysts worried. In Pentagon circles, among those who are watching the budding war between Moscow and Ankara, citations of this famous movie clip are now commonplace. Distressingly, smart Russian analysts are thinking along similar lines.
Today Pavel Felgenhauer published his analysis under the alarming title, “Russia has begun preparations for a major war,” and he marshals a convincing case that the snap exercises in the country’s southwest are really a cover for a shooting war with Turkey—and therefore with NATO too, if Ankara is perceived as defending itself and can assert its right to Article 5, collective self-defense, which obligates all members of the Atlantic Alliance to come to Turkey’s aid.
What it looks like when Russian attack jets fly ‘dangerously close’ to a Navy ship
Testing a warship captain’s restraint is a very dangerous game, indeed. It isn’t Obama who’s creating a dangerous situation. It’s Vladimir Putin. The man clearly has a few screws loose. If we had an impulsive, reactionary leader in the White House, we’d be one miscalculation away from total disaster.
Drawing a line in the sand and not having the guts to enforce it is causing the danger. Obama asked for this! Allowing our sailors t Iran is another sign of weakness that is being exploited.o be captured by
I don’t think some people are entirely clear about the point where pointless demonstrations of resolve begin to shade into stupidity. What Putin is doing is stupid. At the very least, this sort of irresponsible behavior is putting Russian pilots at unnecessary risk. At worst, he’s risking unnecessary war that everybody would lose, but Russia would lose worst of all. The man is an idiot.
Putin is demonstrating to the World that Obama is powerless and that Russia is the power. If Obama had any guts, the Navy would have orders to shoot down any plane that flies that close. Putin would shoot down one of our planes that did that.
Quite possibly. As has already been noted, Putin has more than a few loose screws. He does this sort of b.s. to distract and to puff himself up. He as need for both. The Russian economy truly is in the toilet.
Obama is not powerless. Obama is Commander in Chief of the most powerful military force that has ever existed on the planet. He doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody.
Obama is powerless because he is weak kneed or lacks courage. He also surrounds himself with ignorant people who lack knowledge and will. Putin knows that as well as the rest of the World. A man is not strong because he has strong resources at his command. He is strong when he lets his enemies know he is willing t use those resources. Obama is lacking in will!
Try to remember that when it comes time for you to choose between a bombastic reality TV host who imagines he can make problems go away with the force of his personality, and a Canadian-born dominionist notable for reading a Dr. Seuss book on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
And then remind yourself who has used the resources at his disposal to keep the nation safe from ISIS for the past 18 months, while the republican House has remained too politically spineless to hold a vote on his request for authorization, or even to allow the matter to be properly discussed and debated.
Apri 13, 2016: http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/720245/coalition-focuses-on-dismantling-fragmenting-isil-oir-spokesman-says
As if there is EVER a rational reason to give an irrational enemy an excuse to start a war that he clearly wants. Obama KNOWS that Congress would NOT support a military adventure against Putin, and he isn’t stupid enough to incite a conflict that nobody would get behind. He ALSO knows that there isn’t much point to committing suicide in order to save face. Putin will eventually grow old and die, or else saner Russians will kill him. Until then, we’re better off not engaging with him any more than we have to, and that is VERY little.
You liberals are so wise! These people only respect strength. Strength must be used. There is no need to have a war, but muscles must be flexed when there is a threat. When a line is drawn, there needs to be consequences when it is crossed. Maybe some of you should read a more stimulating source than People’s Magazine. Try , “The Art of War” Or Clausewitz “On War”. Then you could post relevant comments here
if you could comprehend the readings.
Maybe if Republicans would spend half as much time figuring out how to run their own country and win presidential elections, they wouldn’t HAVE to waste so much time CRYING about what the OTHER party’s president does or doesn’t do, and they wouldn’t have to waste so much time figuring out cheap little insults to lob at their fellow Americans. Republicans make a career out of trashing Democrats, and they do that job much better than they actually govern. For this reason, things DON’T get any better when a Republican president gets elected – if they actually DID, we’d elect republican presidents all the time. But we don’t, and a GOOD part of the reason is that, more often than not, Republicans nominate people that HORRIFY the majority of voters. Unless you’ve got a miracle up your sleeve, you’re going to do it again THIS time. Then, you can spend ANOTHER four years crying about how HILLARY is the WORST president ever, like we haven’t heard that song before. Maybe if you would actually MEND a few fences instead of perpetually building new ones, there would be something to hope for, but there isn’t because you won’t. Don’t blame me. I told you so.
Another aerial close call as Russian jet barrel-rolls over U.S. aircraft
Putin is an effing idiot.
Obama’s reckless indifference to the unbridled ambitions of Vladimir Putin evidently have been a matter of such great concern on the right that they’ve raised up a candidate who clearly intends to put the man in his proper place:
Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin
@Greg: Putin has made clear he likes Trump and wants him to win Presidency—not hard to understand the admiration these two have for each other.