Whom Russia Will Fight and Whom It Won’t

The West is trying to provoke Russia into a war on four fronts, but to no avail

Sat, Dec 5, 2015
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Famous Russian author takes a bird’s eye view of the global chess game

Originally appeared at Zavtra. Translated by Svetlana Kyrzhaly and Rhod Mackenzie


A Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian SU-24 in the Syrian skies. One pilot was killed, as was a marine trying to rescue them. Russians responded with anguish, anger, and a desire for revenge. Russia’s war in the Middle East started with air strikes in support of President Bashar al-Assad, hitting ISIS detachments advancing to Damascus. Now it has become a capricious, meandering channel.

A terrorist attack downed a Russian airliner over the Sinai - killing hundreds of our citizens and turning war into punishment. Air strikes were increased, involving strategic long-range bombers. The war became a rising flow of hatred and desire for revenge.

Suddenly, an act of terrorism occurred in Paris. The French sent a naval group led by the aircraft carrier "Charles de Gaulle" to the Syrian coast, joining the campaign against ISIS. Russian and French ships entered into a relationship of allies.

The idea of a coalition that would harmonize NATO and Russian efforts, also attracted other European countries. Then there was a treacherous act by Turkey, and momentum for a coalition receded into the background.

The coalition pursued by Russian diplomacy could ease the contradictions between the West and Russia built-up over the years, and military cooperation could be followed by better economic, political and cultural relations.  This will require complex interactions between Russian, Western and Turkish diplomats.

Russia today is implicated in three world hot spots. We have committed considerable resources to the fight in Syria, and now we have begun to expend lives. Mocking the Minsk agreements, Kiev is poised to restart the Ukrainian conflict, as multiple rocket launchers pound Donetsk, and terrorist attacks cut off Crimea’s power supply.

Events in Central Asia are no less alarming. Armed Islamists from Afghanistan are violating the territorial integrity of Tajikistan, ready to invade Uzbekistan. And if these Central Asian republics burn, Russia will be compelled by its joint security agreements to intervene.

In the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Russia has strengthened its military-technical cooperation with Iran, supplying modern weapons, including ultra-precise, powerful anti-aircraft missiles Iran requested. We hope that following the participation of  Iran's "Islamic Revolutionary Guards" in the Syrian conflict its presence will be strengthened.

Three military conflicts are a lot for Russia; another one with Turkey is out of the question. Recently, President Putin visited Iran, speaking one on one with the spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khamenei for a half hour. We can assume they discussed new Middle East emerging from this chaos. Since the Middle East is a lynchpin controlling vital oil flows, Iran and Russia cannot leave geostrategic changes to NATO.

Russia is ready to launch the first Bushehr nuclear power station and continue the construction of a second, third, and perhaps fourth unit.

The downing of our plane by the Turks revived memories of past Russian-Turkish wars: the Balkan campaign. My grandfather’s fight against the Turks in the Caucasus for which he was awarded the "Golden Gun", is a family legend. We will solve the present tragedy by diplomatic means, but this doesn’t mean that it will go unanswered. Turkey and Russia were close economic partners for a long time. But now the Turks will have to earn Russian markets.

Turkey has domestic problems; the army is restless and Erdogan is tottering on his throne, perhaps facing a coup. Russia could help bring an end to Erdogan by backing the Kurds, long-standing victims of a Turkey, that dreams of restoring the Ottoman Empire. In any case, Russia will spare no efforts to teach the Turks not to test our goodwill again.

Turkey is not not a free nation. It is part of NATO’s huge machine,  managed by US officials installed in Ankara. Obama has been cautious,  but the shooting down of the Russian aircraft couldn’t happen without US approval. When Washington  feared it was losing the initiative in the Middle East to Russia, it was surely tempted to halt this process. Erdogan's “decision” to shoot down our plane was in reality a political move against Russia’s assertive Middle East policy.

As the war continues, we light candles to our people killed over Sinai, and give military honors to the fallen heroes, praying for our troops.

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