Given the de-facto cooperation between Russia and the US on the reconfiguration of Syria, the only option left to the Sunni coalition is direct intervention by Turkey as well as auxiliary forces from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. This is a comprehensive analysis of possible war scenarios provided by the Russian military journal ‘Topwar’ and complemented by the American ‘Jamestown foundation’.
The escalation of the conflict
The invasion of Turkey and Saudi Arabia to Syria, as well as the war with Russia, is not predetermined. the situation is determined by many factors: from the personality of Erdogan to Washington’s position. However, such a possibility exists. Moreover, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in recent years feel “rejected”. The US is increasingly moving away from its former strategic allies. They have already done their part – have taken an active part in the reformatting of the Middle East. But in Ankara and Riyadh have forgotten that this is a double-edged sword. The hosts of the West are planning a complete “reset matrix”, ie the territory of Turkey and Saudi Arabia are also planned to divide into smaller and more manageable states or tribal territory.
Not surprisingly, the same Riyadh recently developed a rigorous activity on the Union of Islamic Gulf states, pumping money to Egypt and actively organized an invasion of Yemen, trying to lower oil price to topple competitors (primarily Venezuela, Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia), and to take their share of the market, and so on. In this case, the dismemberment of Syria, for Saudi Arabia and Turkey was a priority activity in recent years. By the collapse of Syria’s Assad regime Turkey and Saudi Arabia want to solve a number of problems. In particular, to strike Iran’s position in the region, to crush the hostile regime, to receive economic benefits in the form of control over oil transportation routes, and so on.
A Russian intervention at the last moment, when the fall of Damascus was just around the corner, confused the cards for Ankara and Riyadh. With the support of Russia the exhausted Armed Forces of the Syrian army have been able to counter-attack. It is clear that it is yet far from victory, but progress was made. Therefore, Turkey and Saudi Arabia must take immediate action – direct intervention, or admit defeat. And forget about the huge sums spent on the war in Syria, tools and resources. Damascus, with the support of Russia and Iran, sooner or later, is to restore control.
Therefore, Ankara made some sudden movements. November 24, 2015 in the border area on the territory of Syria, was shot down a bomber Su-24M, according to Ankara it violated the air borders of Turkey. Aircraft pilot Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov was murdered by a gang of militants led by a Turkish citizen. Then the terrorists destroyed the Mi-8 helicopter carrying the dead Marine Alexander Pozynich. Ankara has refused a public apology. Now it came to the preparations for intervention in Syria and accused Moscow of “war crimes.”
February 7 ,Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara should not be repeated in Syria the same mistake as when she refused the proposal of the US to enter into a coalition to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime. “We do not want to make the same mistake in Syria, as in Iraq. You must see the horizon. What is happening in Syria, may take place only up to a point. In some of them, it should be changed “, – said Erdogan. According to the Turkish leader, the military forces of Turkey “prepared for all possible situations” in Syria. At the same time, Erdogan accused Putin of Syrian occupation, “What are you doing in Syria? You are essentially the occupier. “
February 8 Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmush claims that part of the air strikes military forces of the Russian Federation accounted for civilian areas in Syria. At a cabinet meeting, he said: “We see that the Russian airstrikes in Syria affect civilian areas. Russia carried out about 6200 sorties, and about 85 percent were aimed at the moderate opposition. “ He noted that the fighting provoked a new wave of refugees.
February 9th, Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu said that his country intends to protect the Syrian Aleppo, calling it a return of the historic debt, “We will return our historical debt. Once our brothers from Aleppo protect our cities – Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş (during World War I), and now we will protect the heroic Aleppo. Behind it all defenders of Turkey. “
February 10, Prime Minister of Turkey Davutoglu compared the Russian action in Syria since the war in Afghanistan, and said that only 10% of Russian air strikes in Syria falls on positions of ISIS militants. According to him, the Russian Federation will sink in Syria, as the Soviet Union in Afghanistan: “No one should forget how the Soviet Union with substantial, significant forces during the Cold War came to Afghanistan, then left Afghanistan in a situation of dependence. Those who came to Syria today and will leave Syria in a dependent position. “
February 11, Turkish President Erdogan warned that Ankara’s patience may be exhausted, and then it will start to take action in Syria. “We will be patient until a certain point, and then we will take the necessary measures. The number of new wave of refugees could reach 600 thousand people, if air strikes will not stop “, – said the Turkish leader at a meeting with businessmen. The same day, Secretary of Defense adviser Ahmed Asiri, he said that Saudi Arabia does not intend to review the decision to conduct a ground operation in Syria.
At the same time the news of the transfer of troops in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey’s military preparations. “We have serious reasons to suspect intensive training in Turkey for a military invasion of the territory of a sovereign state – the Syrian Arab Republic. Signs of hidden training the Turkish armed forces to act on the territory of Syria, we fix more and more “, – said the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major-General Igor Konashenkov.
Syria. On the whole, it is clear that at present, the Turkish army has an overwhelming superiority over the Syrian. Especially with the participation of military contingents of Arab monarchies that would divert part of the Syrian Armed Forces. If at the beginning of the war in Syria, the Syrian army was a “hard nut to crack” and would cause unacceptable damage to the Turkish army, but now the situation has changed dramatically. Syrian troops exhausted by years of bloody war, suffered heavy losses, the soldiers mentally fatigued, seriously weakened the combat potential – the number of “trunks”, ammunition, etc. In addition, the Syrian troops at the same time it is necessary to fight with a variety of gangs -.. From the “moderate” to the jihadists. And part of the troops will be distracted by the Saudis and their allies. It is also worth considering that under the pressure of the “world community” Damascus was forced to abandon a last resort to protect its sovereignty – a chemical weapon.
Thus, if Turkey and Arab allies have to deal only with a weakened Syrian army, the Syrian death sentence is signed. It will irrevocably be divided into spheres of influence.
In this scenario, Moscow would be forced to leave or Syria or answer. Leaving Syria is quite possible, especially if we consider the situation with Ukraine and the Donbas. After all, Moscow had every opportunity to reunite with Russia not only Crimea, but the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and, if desired, the entire south-eastern Ukraine. Kiev then could do nothing to prevent it. The question was just how many “little green men” to send. However, the project “New Russia” was aborted. Apparently, under the unofficial political pressure from the West. At the same time all the talk about a nuclear war with the US and NATO for Ukraine – is a delusion and deception. Never the West would fight because of Ukraine. Diplomatic pressure, yelling about the “Russian threat”, economic sanctions and a gradual build-up of NATO forces on the eastern borders – is the limit. All this happened without the return of Kiev and Kharkov. The reason – Crimea. And the pressure will continue as long as Moscow would negotiate with “partners”. Leaving Syria is possible when activating the “political process”, “armistice” main forces. De facto, in this scenario, Damascus can only store Latakia-Tartous, Alawite resettlement center.
If the decision is to support Syria, the question arises – how? Radically strengthen the Syrian Armed Forces, Russia can not. First, Syrian troops are exhausted by years of war and the infusion of new weapons and ammunition support can not seriously change the situation. Secondly, Turkey and the West can dramatically narrow the supply routes of arms, munitions and war material. In particular, blocking the Straits from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
It is possible that Russia will support the Syrian forces from the air. This possible scenario is that the strikes will deal with Syrian aircraft identification marks (or without them). Russia may create big problems in Turkey, in spite of its numerical superiority in the air on the Syrian track. The presence of modern Syria Air Force, air defense and naval grouping ensures Ankara a big problem.
This option, when Turkey will ignore Russia’s presence, and she will not be to attack our positions, and we discreetly reinforce the Syrian Armed Forces, can suit many. However, it is fraught with slipping to the expansion of the conflict. And it is hardly satisfied with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the West in general, who have already set their sights on the dismemberment of Syria.
Another possible theater of hostilities – The Black Sea A few years Turkish Navy had a significant advantage over Russia’s aging and seriously weakened after the collapse of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. BSF lost the coast of the South Caucasus and Ukraine, there is only Novorossiysk. Full advantage of Turkey was in the submarine fleet ( Turkish submarine fleet – souled lord of the depths of the Black Sea ) and in the number of frigates and corvettes. However, recently the situation has changed seriously. Firstly, Russia started renovation and modernization of the Black Sea Fleet. Second, Russia got “unsinkable aircraft carrier” – Crimea with Sevastopol, ie have an opportunity to dramatically strengthen Russia’s position in the Black Sea theater. Third, the Crimean group was created, transferred aircraft.
Coming into the game: the United States and NATO. The problem is that Turkey can act as NATO. Then, in the Black Sea naval group will enter NATO as part of a 2-3 naval strike groups of the cruiser class ships, a destroyer and a frigate, which will be supported by the forces of the US Navy’s carrier-based aircraft from the aircraft carrier battle groups (up to 3 aircraft carrier battle groups) from the Eastern Mediterranean . In addition, the US and NATO countries can strike tactical air forces with Turkey’s airports. Then the Black Sea Fleet’s defeat is inevitable, although the enemy can incur certain losses.
Further possible landing of enemy on the Black Sea coast of Russia and NATO air strikes from the sea by the sun objects, RF infrastructure. NATO can organize the Crimean operation. In fact, this scenario is the Eastern (Crimean) war of 1853-1856. That is, the RF is able to cause the defeat of Turkey, both in the local conflict and the full-scale (but with serious losses), but then the US and NATO can intervene and close attacks to force Moscow to make concessions, especially in the socio-economic crisis that inevitably turn into a political one.
Nuclear weapons in such a situation will not be used. For Moscow, the first use of nuclear weapons – is a complete discrediting of the whole of mankind and the related consequences. For the US and NATO to use nuclear weapons is not necessary, simply enter full-scale economic and technological sanctions, cut off the supply of food and the Russian Federation “bite” from different directions with the help of Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland and so on. Wait, when in Russia there will be a coup or revolution, or she will go to Moscow, “peace of Paris” with the assignment of the Crimea, the demilitarization of the Black Sea basin, and so on.
Other destinations: Possible escalation in other areas. So, almost inevitable that at the beginning of the Russian-Turkish war on the side of Ukraine will perform in Ankara. There is a possibility that Ukraine will support and Poland. Kiev tries to crush and repel the Donbass Crimea. Obviously, the Ukrainian army will be defeated in the Crimean direction. In Donbass possible options: militia defeat, the defeat of the Ukrainian army (with Russian help) or a new protracted chopper. At the same time the West anyway wins – Russian kill Russian, reducing the overall capacity. At the same time, Turkey is encouraged to try to organize the rebellion of Crimean Tatars. Ankara may try to trigger a new war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Karabakh, which divert the attention of Russia in the Caucasus.
For its part, Russia can make a bet on the Kurds in Syria and Turkey. Officially recognize the need for an independent Kurdistan in Turkey. Support the Kurdish movement by experienced advisors, arms and ammunition.
It should be noted that, to all appearances,Moscow understands the danger of the situation and especially the Crimean direction. So serious are the teachings in the Crimea. On the peninsula during the snap drills raised in the air Fighter aircraft, alerted units of anti-aircraft missile troops, said the Russian Defense Ministry. Chief of General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov checked the organization of the control points 31 th Air Defense Division in the reflection of massive missile and air attack imaginary enemy. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu: “Enhanced grouping of troops in the Crimea, air forces and air defense was meant to repulse massive air attack imaginary enemy ready.”
Sudden Massive Snap Exercise and Mobilization of Russian Forces in Black Sea and Caspian Region Appears Aimed at Turkey
On Monday, February 8, Russia’s defense minister, Army-General Sergei Shoigu, announced that the military forces of the Southern and Central Military districts, the Aerospace Forces (Vozdushno Kosmicheskikh Sil—VKS) the airborne troops (Vozdushno Desantnye Voyska—VDV), the military transport air force (Voenno Transportnaya Aviatsiya—VTA), the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla were being mobilized for full battle readiness. The VKS will, according to Shoigu, “prepare to perform massive air raids and to repel massive air attacks” while army units and the VDV are testing the ability of rapid long-distance deployment. The time frame of this latest Russian snap exercise or the exact number of troops have not been announced. The massive mobilization of forces and their forward deployment began without prior warning. Shoigu ordered his deputy Anatoly Antonov—a career diplomat employed by the defense ministry since February 2011—to “inform foreign military attachés about the snap battle readiness exercise” as it was already in progress (Mil.ru, February 8).
The use of military maneuvers as a covert prelude to war is traditionally seen by Russian generals as the best way to achieve strategic and tactical surprise. Military exercises can disguise the massive prewar troop movement that would otherwise be virtually impossible to hide. The invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the occupation of Crimea in 2014 were preceded by massive exercises. The present snap exercises involve mass troop movement close to the Ukrainian border, and the Ukrainian military command is reportedly worried. The commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and chief of the General Staff, Army-General Viktor Muzhenko, told Interfax-Ukraine: “The Russian [military] told us these [maneuvers] were a preparation for further exercises the coming summer, but we will be on the lookout and prepared to meet the possible threat posed by the deployment of battle-ready forces on our borders” (Interfax, February 8).
It may indeed be true that the present snap exercise is not a cover to invade Ukraine. But Russia’s stated excuse—that the current exercise is only the groundwork for further, possibly even more massive maneuvers in the summer—sounds ominous. Nevertheless, the mobilization of the Caspian Flotilla is most likely not aimed at Kyiv. Late last year, the Russian Navy fired long-range cruise missiles from ships on the Caspian Sea at targets in northern Syria, close to the Turkish border. It is technically possible to lob maritime Kalibr cruise missiles from the Caspian at Ukraine; but the overall pattern of these February snap exercises points in a different direction.
If Ukraine was the simulated prime target, both Central and South Military Districts would have been equally engaged as frontline forces, with reinforcements coming from the Urals and Siberia. Instead, Russian military experts believe the present snap exercises are aimed primarily at Turkey and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, if they intervene in the fray. Shoigu’s order for the VKS to “prepare massive air raids and repel massive air attacks” also does not seem to be directly aimed at Ukraine, which has a small outdated air force, incapable of carrying out “massive raids” deep into Russia to destroy strategically important targets. According to Colonel (retired) Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor of Arsenal Otechestva, the snap exercises are intended to send a powerful political message “to some addresses, particularly Turkey.” Preparing for deep, long-range operations, some of the units will be moved up to 3,000 kilometers, and a Central Military District tank army will be relocated to Russia’s southern border region. In addition to Turkey as a possible recipients of Russia’s “message,” Murakhovsk cited Ukraine and the United Kingdom, “who decided to run reportedly anti-Russian military exercises in Jordan” (Mk.ru, February 9).
Captain First Rank (retired) Oleg Odnokolenko, the deputy editor of Nezavisimoye Voennoye Obozreniye, notes the lack of announced time limits to the present snap exercise, which indicates “it will last as long as needed.” Odnokolenko compares the present snap exercise with prolonged Russian military maneuvers in the summer of 2008 that lulled the Georgians into false sense of security. But in fact, Russian troops were at that time standing by in a heightened state of readiness, primed to go into combat immediately. Today, according to Odnokolenko, the Russians are ready to take on the Turkish military and prevail: The Russian Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, in Syria, has been reinforced with brand-new Su-35 and Su-34 jets, S-400 and Pantsyr antiaircraft missiles, as well as new electronic warfare equipment. Russian warships with guided missiles are positioned off the Syrian coast ready to intervene, if the Turks dare to interfere with the Russian VKS military operations in Syria. Of course, Turkey is a NATO member, but according to Odnokolenko, “the US and NATO may decide to shy away from a fight.” “Russia may today have fewer [nuclear-tipped] missiles than at the height of the Cold War,” continues Odnokolenko, “But our missiles are not rusty” (Ng.ru, February 9).
In an interview this week in Moskovskiy Komsomolets, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Turkey of colluding with the Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—ISIS) to counter the VKS bombing campaign in Syria. The Turks, according to Lavrov, are seeking Western and US endorsement to intervene in Syria directly to create a border “safe zone” for refugees that will be designated “free of ISIS.” Such action would grossly violate international law and may lead to a major military confrontation, he noted. Lavrov asserted that the US and other US-led anti–Islamic State coalition members would not allow Turkey to make such irresponsible moves (Mk.ru, February 11).
Last January, President Vladimir Putin cautioned the West not to become involved in any possible future Russo-Turkish confrontation: “NATO must defend its members against attack, but no one is attacking Turkey. NATO nations, including Germany, must not help Turkey defend its interests inside Syria.” Putin warned: “If challenged, Russia will defend its interests using all available means” (see EDM, January 14).
The present snap exercise strongly resembles a massive combat prewar troop deployment aimed to take on Turkey if it attempts to intervene in Syria to curtail the Russian-led offensive in Aleppo, Idlib and Latakia provinces, which is decimating the Syrian opposition. The Russian military deployment must deter both Turkey and NATO, ideally splitting the Alliance. If deterrence fails, the deployed troops will likely be ready to go into action.