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Regional geopolitics

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  • Re: Regional geopolitics

    Could Russia Use Georgian, Armenian Airspace for Syria Flights?
    September 11, 2015,
    by Giorgi Lomsadze and Gayane Abrahamyan

    Amidst mounting concerns in Washington about Russia’s military presence in war-ravaged Syria, one question persists — if existing air routes for Russian flights to Syria are closed, what will be Moscow’s backup plan? Long a corridor between Russia and fellow Syrian ally Iran, the South Caucasus countries of Georgia and Armenia appear an option to some.

    It is unclear, however, what exact role US ally Georgia, to Russia's south, and Russian ally Armenia, to Iran's north, play or could play in any such corridor.

    So far, government agencies in both Caucasus countries and US diplomats have equivocated on the matter.

    On September 11, Georgian aviation officials announced that Russia, its northern neighbor, has not asked to use Georgia’s airspace for Syria-bound flights “in recent days or in the past two months.” Whether it did so before “the past two months” was not specified in the statement to GHN newswire.

    In Armenia, with which Russia has just announced plans for a joint air defense union, the foreign ministry deferred questions on Russian military flights to Armenia’s Civil Aviation Authority.

    Armenian Civil Aviation Authority Spokesperson Rouben Grdzelian told that “there isn’t any restriction” on Russian military flights “as Russia can freely use Armenian airspace . . .” Russian military flights come into Erebuni, a military airport just outside of the capital, Yerevan, almost every day, he added.

    Russia’s sole army base in the South Caucasus is located in the northern Armenian town of Gyumri, not far from the Georgian border. No direct train link exists between Armenia and Russia and Georgia is not known to allow Russian military vehicles to use its territory for transit.

    More flights to Armenia could be coming. On September 8, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated that Moscow is prepared to sign deals on air bases “with any of the countries with which we have alliance treaties;” a grouping that includes Armenia, its only steady ally in the South Caucasus.

    Grdzelian, though, claimed that the Armenian aviation agency had no information about Russian flights to Syria and that “at the moment there isn’t any transit flight via Armenian airports.”

    In Georgia, government bodies also sidestepped knowledge of Russian military flights. The Georgian Ministry of Defense told that the subject is “not in their immediate competence.”

    For a country that fought a war with Russia in 2008 and still considers Russia its top security threat, this might seem a bit surprising.

    A comment from the US Embassy in Tbilisi also did not bring much clarity. “We have encouraged our allies and partners to ask tough questions of Russia’s increased military deployment in Syria,” the embassy said in an emailed response to a question from about reports of the Caucasus as a transit zone for Russia’s Syria-bound flights.

    Bulgaria shut its own skies to Russian Syria-bound flights on September 8, after receiving a US request to do so. Neighboring Greece is still undecided.

    Asked if the US had also made a request to the Georgian government to deny clearance for such flights, the embassy wrote that “We do not discuss the details of our private diplomatic communication.”

    Georgian aviation officials said that granting such clearance is the foreign ministry’s prerogative and stated that the ministry has not issued any such order. The Georgian foreign ministry did not respond to an earlier inquiry in time for publication.

    Moscow, for its part, has not named either Georgia or Armenia as among its candidates for a fallback route to Syria. Neighboring Turkey, a NATO member and avowed enemy of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is clearly not an option.

    A Turkish international relations specialist interviewed by Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency termed the Caspian Sea to Iran and Iraq one "risky" possibility for Russia.

    On September 9, a spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Tehran announced that Russia had received Iranian permission for "humanitarian flights" to Syria.

    Meanwhile, Russia itself maintains that its support for Syria, where it now has naval and air bases, is nothing out of the ordinary. In a September 11 comment, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asserted that his country had gotten involved in the anti-terrorism fight in Syria “for collective work, and in accordance with international norms.”

    Caucasus/Turkey News Editor Elizabeth Owen added reporting to this post.


    • Re: Regional geopolitics

      Putin’s offer to shield & develop Israel’s gas fields predated Russia’s military buildup in Syria
      13 Sept 2015

      More than a fortnight ago, Russian President Vladimir put a proposition to Israel for Moscow to undertake responsibility for guarding Israel’s Mediterranean gas fields, along with the offer of a Russian investment of $7-10 billion for developing Leviathan, the largest well, and building a pipeline to Turkey for exporting the gas to Europe, DEBKAfile reports. The offer was made to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in confidential phone conversations and through quiet envoys.
      At the time, Putin did not share with Netanyahu his plans for an imminent buildup of marines, air force units, warships and missiles in Syria, although the plan had been worked out in detail with Tehran in late July. The Russian ruler put it this way: Leviathan abuts on the fringes of Lebanon’s economic water zone and is therefore vulnerable to potential sabotage by Iran, Syria or Hizballah, whether by commando or rocket attack.
      A multibillion Russian investment in the field would make it a Russian project which neither Syria nor Hizballah would dare attack, even though it belongs to Israel.
      But now the situation has assumed a different face. Russian forces are streaming to Latakia, and Moscow has declared the area from Tartous, Syria up to Cyprus closed to shipping and air traffic from Sept. 15 to Oct. 7 in view of a “military exercise including test firings of guided missiles” from Russian warships.
      When he offered a shield for Israeli gas fields in late August, The Russian ruler knew that implementation would rest with Russian military forces on the spot, rather than Iranian and Syrian reluctance to harm Russian interests.
      Then, on Aug. 30, Netanyahu discussed the new Russian proposition with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi when they met in Florence, in the context of the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s involvement in Middle Eastern and European energy business and his close ties with Putin.
      Berlusconi and Netanyahu are also good friends.
      The Israeli prime minister never explicitly confirmed to Putin that he would consider the Russian transaction.
      He hesitated because he sensed that a deal with Moscow for gas projects would be unacceptable to Washington and Noble Energy of Texas, which holds a 39.66 percent share in the consortium controlling Leviathan, as well as stakes in the smaller Tanin and Tamar gas wells.
      Meanwhile, two Israeli ministers, Moshe Kahlon, finance, and Arye Deri, economy, consistently obstructed the final government go-ahead for gas production, tactics which also held Netanyahu back from his reply to Putin.
      But when the fresh influx of Russian troops and hardware to Syria became known (first revealed by DEBKAfile on Sept.1), Netanyahu began to appreciate that, not only had Israel’s military and strategic situation with regard to Syria and the eastern Mediterranean been stood on its head, so too had foreign investment prospects for development projects in Israeli gas.
      Israel’s strategic landscape had in fact changed radically in four respects:
      1. Its government can no longer accept as a working hypothesis (which never, incidentally, held up) the short term expectancy of the Assad regime. The injection of Russian military might, combined with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces, have given Assad a substantial lease of life.
      The Israel Defense Forces must therefore revamp its posture on the Syrian front, and reassess its sponsorship of the select rebel groups which are holding the line in southern Syria against hostile Iranian or Hizballah cross-border attacks on northern Israel.
      The changing attitude was suggested in views heard in the last couple of days from top Israeli security officials, who now say that leaving Assad in office might be the better option, after all.
      2. The new Russian ground, air and sea buildup taking shape in Syria provides a shield not just for the Assad regime but also Hizballah. This too calls for changes in Israel’s military posture.
      3. The Russian military presence in Syria seriously inhibits Israel’s flexibility for launching military action against Iranian or Hizballah targets when needed.
      4. Three aspects of the new situation stand out prominently:
      a) The Russian air force and navy are the strongest foreign military force in the eastern Mediterranean. The US deplloys nothing comparable.
      b) Israel’s military strength is substantial but no one is looking for a military clash with the Russians, although this did occur four decades ago, when Israel was fighting for its life against Russian-backed Arab invasions.
      c) In view of the prevalence of the Russian military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, it is hard to see any foreign investor coming forward to sink billions of dollars in Israeli gas.
      d) Although Russia called Saturday, Sept. 12, for “military-to-military cooperation with the United States” to avert "unintended incidents" amid its naval "exercises" off the coast of Syria, the tone of the call was cynical. It is more than likely that Moscow may revert to the original Putin offer of a Russian defense shield for Israeli gas fields. But with such strong Russian cards in place in Syria, he may well stiffen his terms for this deal.


      • Re: Regional geopolitics

        Russia 'plans forward air operating base' in Syria - US

        Russia's recent movements near Syria's city of Latakia suggest that Moscow plans to establish a "forward air operating base" there, the US has said.
        Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said there had been a steady flow of people and equipment in the coastal area.
        Russia says military equipment is being sent to Syria to help the government combat the so-called Islamic State.
        Moscow has been a key ally of President Assad during Syria's bloody civil war, which began in 2011.

        'No additional steps'

        "We have seen indications in recent days that Russia has moved people and things into the area around Latakia and the air base there that suggests that it intends to establish some sort of a forward air operating base," Mr Davis said on Monday.
        He added that the US was concerned that Russian military moves could come into conflict with US and coalition air strikes that were being conducted in Syria against IS.

        US officials also fear that the stepped-up Russian support will fortify the regime of President Bashar al-Assad at a time when it has been losing on the battlefield and will complicate recent efforts to find a political solution to the conflict, the BBC's Barbara Plett Usher in New York reports.
        The US comments come just days after Syrian state media reported that two Russian cargo planes with 80 tonnes of humanitarian aid had landed in Syria.
        The planes reportedly flew into an air base near Latakia - a stronghold of President Assad.
        Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov said the plane was carrying materials for setting up a tent camp for refugees.

        The Kremlin has dismissed any military build-up, although Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that Russia would send more help to Syria if requested.
        "Russia is sending planes to Syria with both military equipment in accordance with current contracts and humanitarian aid," he said. "Russia is not taking any additional steps."
        US officials have said Russia may be giving President Assad extra military support because he has suffered substantial territorial losses to rebels.
        The Syrian government recently lost control of a key air base in the north-eastern province of Idlib.

        Earlier this month, Bulgaria refused to allow Russian aircraft to cross its air space amid fears that Russia was sending extra military support to Syria.
        Russia later said it had been given permission to fly over Iranian territory en route to Syria.
        Last week, officials in Washington quoted by Reuters said Moscow had sent more aircraft and two tank landing ships to Russia's naval base in the Syrian coastal city of Tartus. They also said a small number of naval infantry forces had been deployed.

        While Russia has backed the Syrian government and provided it with arms, the US wants to see President Assad removed.
        The war between President Assad's regime and various rebel groups has so far killed at least 240,000 people and displaced millions.


        • Re: Regional geopolitics

          Originally posted by Vrej1915 View Post
          Russia 'plans forward air operating base' in Syria - USR
          Are you against that, vrej?
          BUY "WHO IS MONTE." Proceeds from this film will benefit the families of the fallen soldiers of the Karabagh war. Available at:

          <<Երբ իրիկունը գլուխներդ դնեք բարծին որ քնանաք, մի քիչ մտածեք ազգի մասին>>
          --ՔԱՋՆ ԱՆԴՐԱՆԻԿ


          • Re: Regional geopolitics

            No, why should I?
            It is an important change in regional geopolitics, and it will have consequences on our security, whether you want it or not.
            So I think it is of full interest, so it needs to be reported as any other news, concerning our region in this topic.

            What I think of its success, probability, and consequences is not the point here.


            • Re: Regional geopolitics

              Originally posted by Vrej1915 View Post
              No, why should I?
              It is an important change in regional geopolitics, and it will have consequences on our security, whether you want it or not.
              So I think it is of full interest, so it needs to be reported as any other news, concerning our region in this topic.

              What I think of its success, probability, and consequences is not the point here.
              Your Armenian Lion


              • Re: Regional geopolitics

                Originally posted by Armynia View Post


                • Re: Regional geopolitics

                  Թուրքիան կործանումից միշտ փրկել է ռուսը. «Cui prodest» կամ ում է ձեռնտու

                  14 sept. 2015
                  Ծուխը կրակից շատ է: Թուրքիան թուլացնում են, դարձնում ավելի կառավարելի ու պակաս անկախ, սակայն դրա տրոհումը մոտ ապագայում չի լինի: Հիշեք պատմությունը. շատ ավելի ծանր վիճակում էլ է եղել Թուրքիան: Ինչ վերաբերում է մեզ, ապա, ցավոք, մնացինք անմասն, հայերի տարածքային հավակնությունների մասին անգամ թուրքերը մոռացան: Թուրքիա. ում է ձեռնտու դրա տրոհումը ու ինչ բաց թողեցինք մենք:
                  Last edited by Vrej1915; 09-14-2015, 10:12 PM.


                  • Re: Regional geopolitics

                    Originally posted by Vrej1915 View Post

                    Թուրքիան կործանումից միշտ փրկել է ռուսը.
                    Do you realize that only a retard would say that? No wonder foreigners have paid no attention to Armenians for the last 200 years!


                    • Re: Regional geopolitics

                      Originally posted by lampron View Post
                      Do you realize that only a retard would say that? No wonder foreigners have paid no attention to Armenians for the last 200 years!
                      Try to deny any of the facts cited, Mr advanced...