Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Is Russia About To Align Itself With The Free Syrian Army?

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov. © Grigoriy Sisoev / RIA Novosti

RT: Moscow ready for contact with Free Syrian Army - FM Lavrov

Russia is ready for contact with the Free Syrian Army, but it is now a 'phantom,' Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said at a news conference following talks with his Laos counterpart in Moscow.

"They tell us about the Free Syrian Army, but where is it? It remains a phantom group, nothing is known about it," Lavrov said, adding that Russia has sent a request about the group to the United States.

"We will be ready to establish contact with it if it’s really a capable military group of patriotic opposition consisting of Syrians. We do not hide this fact. But this structure is already a phantom. I have asked [State Secretary] John Kerry to provide us with information about the whereabouts of this Free Syrian Army and who commands it," said Lavrov.

Update #1: War Against ISIS: Russian Forces Ready To Meet With Free Syrian Army To Defeat Islamic State, Minister Says -- IBTimes
Update #2: Russia says U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army not a terrorist group -- Reuters

WNU Editor: I do not think this Russia - Free Syrian army alliance is going to happen .... Syrian Rebel Groups Appeal For Regional Alliance to Fight Russia and Iran (Newsweek).

Russia - Syria Begin Military Coordination Talks On Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, Sept. 21, 2015. Ivan Sekretarev / Reuters

Reuters: Russia-Israel military coordination talks on Syria to open Tuesday

A senior Russian military delegation will visit Israel on Tuesday for two days of talks on how the countries can avoid accidentally clashing while operating in Syria, an Israeli military officer said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Sept. 21 to set up teams as Moscow steps up military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been losing ground to an Islamist-led insurgency.

Israel is worried the Russian deployment, which includes advanced anti-aircraft units and warplanes, risks pitting Russian forces against its own over Syria.

WNU Editor: The Israelis have sized up the situation .... looked at who they can rely on (and who they cannot) .... and have made the decision to work with Russia.

More News On Russia - Syria Beginning Military Coordination Talks On Syria

Russian military officials visit Israel for Syria talks -- i24 News
Russia-Israel talks on Syria military coordination to open Tuesday -- Times of Israel
Russia, Israel to talk Syria in Tel Aviv: Israeli Officer -- Press TV
Russia, Israel to Discuss Coordination in Syria on Tuesday -- Sputnik
Israel to provide Russia with intelligence about Syrian opposition -- Middle East Monitor

NATO Rejects Russia's Reason For Violating Turkish Air Space

Reuters: NATO rejects Russia explanation on Turkish air space

NATO on Tuesday rejected Moscow's explanation that its warplanes violated the air space of alliance member Turkey at the weekend by mistake and said Russia was sending more ground troops to Syria and building up its naval presence.

With Russia extending its air strikes to include the ancient city of Palmyra, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he was losing patience with Russian violations of his country's air space.

"An attack on Turkey means an attack on NATO," Erdogan warned at a Brussels news conference.

Update #1: NATO Rejects Russian Explanations for Incursions Into Turkish Air Space -- WSJ
Update #2: Russian Violation of Turkish Airspace is Deliberate, NATO Chief Says -- NBC

WNU Editor: Aside from protesting .... NATO's options to respond are limited .... and I suspect that everyone knows that..

U.S. - Russian Fighter Jets Are Now Making Close Contact With Each Other Over Syria

CBS: Russians make closest contact to date with U.S. war planes over Syria

QATAR -- Russian aircraft had their closest run-in yet with American war planes over Syria. The yellow aircraft are Russian, the green are American.

U.S. pilots flying F-16s out of Turkey first picked up the Russian planes on radar. The Russians closed to within 20 miles, at which point the American pilots could visually identify them on their targeting cameras.

Lt. Gen. Charles Brown, commander of the American air campaign, said the Russians have come even closer than that to his unmanned drones.

"The closest has been within a handful of miles of our remotely piloted aircraft," said Brown. "But to our manned aircraft they've not been closer than about 20 miles."

Update: U.S. F-16s came within 20 miles from Russian Su-34s in Syria -- The Aviationist

WNU Editor: The skies over Syria are getting crowded now .... Syria's skies crowded with multiple air forces (AP). It is only going to be a question of time before an incident does occur over Syria.

Update #2: It looks like everyone is now realizing that they better coordinate their military operations .... Russia, U.S. move to resume talks on air-to-air conduct over Syria (Reuters).

Update #3: This is dangerous .... Turkish F-16s harassed by Russian MiG jet and surface-to-air missiles based out of Syria (AP).

World News Briefs -- October 6, 2015

CNN: NATO says Russian ground troops in Syria, Turkey's airspace violated again

Washington (CNN)Russian involvement in the 4½-year-old Syrian civil war seems to be escalating, with NATO's secretary general confirming Tuesday a second incursion by Russian planes into Turkish airspace and saying Russian ground troops were in Syria as well.

"Russian combat aircraft have violated Turkish airspace," Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, according to NATO's website. "This is unacceptable."

Stoltenberg elaborated at a news conference.


Turkey 'cannot endure' Russian violation of airspace, president says.

Russian Air Force destroys 20 ISIS tanks near Palmyra – Defense Ministry (VIDEOS).

US-led coalition launches 24 airstikes against IS in Syria, Iraq.

Russia, U.S. move to resume talks on air-to-air conduct over Syria.

Syrian refugees increasingly return to war zones in homeland.

Iraq would welcome Russian airstrikes against ISIS.

Yemen conflict: PM Bahah escapes Aden hotel attack. Coalition troops killed after attack in Yemen's Aden.

Millions more refugees could flee Syria, Turkey warns EU.

Abbas says does not want escalation with Israel.

Israel demolishes homes of Palestinian attackers as clashes escalate.


Clashes resume in the embattled Afghan city of Kunduz.

Afghan hospital 'mistakenly struck'; strike decision made within U.S. chain of command: general.

India Maoist rebels abduct Andhra Pradesh politicians.

U.S. warns against 'egregious' restrictions in contested South China Seas.

Japan's Abe says TPP would have strategic significance if China joined.

Nearly 100 migrants reported dead off Libya: IOM.

IMF sees favourable growth in India, urges structural reforms.


Boko Haram militants kill 11 Chad troops: military source. Military source: Chadian soldiers killed in suspected Boko Haram attack.

Govt derailing peace deal, South Sudan rebels warn.

Libya's parliament extends mandate.

Tunisia busts Islamic State recruitment cells, arrests 11 suspected recruits.

Egypt sees 20 terror attacks, 89 protests in September: report.

Burundi criticizes European Union sanctions.

Congo to vote on extending veteran leader's rule as opposition vows fightback.

World Bank: African GDP to slow to 3.7 percent.


Russia invites foreign military officers to Moscow to coordinate Islamic State fight.

Foreign Ministry: Fight against IS is a matter of national security for Russia.

Ukraine crisis: Pro-Russian rebels 'delay disputed elections'. West, Ukraine, hail rebel decision to postpone disputed elections.

EU seeks Turkey help to block migrant flows, offers cash.

Prague to send soldiers to Hungary to secure Europe's borders.

UK minister rejects EU migration pact, vows tighter borders.

Belarusian protesters decry planned Russian air base.

Spain, France arrest member of Basque group ETA near Paris.


US hotel chains circle Cuba as visitors surge, restrictions ease.

Venezuela hits back at U.S. for questioning its democracy.

Ex-U.N. General Assembly president, five others charged in U.S. in bribe scheme.

U.S. oil production on brink, say oil executives.

South Carolina flooding: dams breached, more trouble ahead.

Guatemala mudslide area declared uninhabitable.

U.S.: Record 63.2 million non-English speaking residents, surge in Arabic, Chinese, Spanish.


3,000 terrorists leave Syria following Russian airstrikes – military source.

IS propaganda pushes state-building, Quilliam study finds.

US adds Islamic State, Caucasus Emirates operatives to terrorism list.


IMF cuts forecast for global growth.

E.U. court strikes down Safe Harbor data transfer deal over privacy concerns.

Facebook data transfers threatened by Safe Harbour ruling.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- October 6, 2015

Washington Post: U.S. military struggles to explain how it wound up bombing Doctors Without Borders hospital

A heavily armed U.S. gunship designed to provide added firepower to Special Operations forces was responsible for shooting and killing 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, over the weekend, Pentagon officials said Monday.

The attack occurred in the middle of the night Saturday, when Afghan troops and a U.S. Special Forces team training and advising them were on the ground near the hospital in Kunduz, the first major Afghan city to fall to the Taliban since the war began in 2001. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan said Monday the airstrike was requested by Afghan troops who had come under fire, contradicting earlier statements from Pentagon officials that the strike was ordered to protect U.S. forces on the ground.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- October 6, 2015

General: Afghan forces not ready to take on fight themselves -- The Hill

U.S. commander: American troops must remain in Afghanistan past 2016, new ‘plan’ needed -- Washington Times

Plan to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2017 needs to be altered – ISAF commander -- RT

Syria's skies crowded with multiple air forces -- AP

Turkey reports 2nd day of harassment by Russian military -- CBS/AP

Fighter jet of unknown nationality 'interfered' with Turkish patrol: military -- Reuters

Russia-Israel military coordination talks on Syria to open Tuesday -- Reuters

Russian military officials visit Israel for Syria talks -- AFP

Pentagon Refuses to Coordinate Military Operations in Syria With Moscow -- Sputnik

Russia invites foreign military officers to Moscow to coordinate Islamic State fight -- Reuters

Moscow’s red lines were crossed – ex US intel chief on Russian military op in Syria -- RT

Russian Navy Begins Submarine Search & Destroy Exercises in Baltic Sea -- Sputnik

Russia Creates a Supercomputer to Operate Drones and Robots -- Sputnik

Ukraine Approves Draft Law Allowing Foreigners To Fight In Its Military -- IBTimes

Ukraine War Deserters: 16,000 Troops Abandoned Military Since Conflict Began, Kiev Official Says -- IBTimes

Australia Just Ordered 1,100 High-Powered Armored Vehicles For its Military -- VICE News

Why America is cozying up to the Indian army -- Kevin Knodell, War Is Boring

UK & US blocking ban on killer robots – experts -- RT

Pakistan’s air force chief denies China helped military acquire armed drones -- Washington Times

Face Off: How America Can REALLY Stop China's Navy -- National Interest

A top US Navy commander just took aim at China -- Reuters

Defense Bill Far From a Sure Thing in the Senate -- Roll Call

There’s Only One Question About Carter’s Military Reform Plans That Matters -- Task & Purpose

Lockheed considering laser weapon concepts for F-35 -- Flight Global

Navy F-35C pilot gears up for testing on carrier Ike -- Navy Times

French L-CAT Landing Craft Pitched to US Army -- Defense News

'Protector' UAV fleet to replace RAF Reapers -- Flight Global

Northrop, Lockheed Duke it Out Over Future of USAF Surveillance Aircraft -- Sputnik

Lockheed Martin Making New 60 Megawatt Killer Lasers for US Army -- Sputnik

Talking Helmets and Robot Builders: The Army’s Future of 3D Printing -- Defense One

U.S. military is on its way to getting its Iron Man -- CNN

Nuclear industry ‘struggling’ to make sense of growing cyber threat: report -- Washington Times

Biden backs transgender military service as US weighs policy -- AP

Military should reverse decision against Green Beret who confronted child rapist -- FOX News

Bowe Bergdahl’s Army investigation just proceeded to the next step, lawyer says -- Washington Post

How a secret Chinese military drug based on an ancient herb won the Nobel Prize -- Jeff Guo, Washington Post

Inside the chaotic rescue of Marines whose helicopter crashed in the Gulf of Aden -- Washington Post

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden: 'Smartphones Can Be Taken Over'

BBC: Edward Snowden interview: 'Smartphones can be taken over'

Smartphone users can do "very little" to stop security services getting "total control" over their devices, US whistleblower Edward Snowden has said.

The former intelligence contractor told the BBC's Panorama that UK intelligence agency GCHQ had the power to hack into phones without their owners' knowledge.

Mr Snowden said GCHQ could gain access to a handset by sending it an encrypted text message and use it for such things as taking pictures and listening in.

The UK government declined to comment.

More News On NSA Leaker Edward Snowden's Recent Allegation That 'Smartphones Can Be Taken Over'

Edward Snowden claims British spooks are spying on YOUR phone and can even switch it on and off remotely as part of a training programme codenamed ‘Smurfs’ -- Daily Mail
Edward Snowden: Smartphones can be hacked into with just one text message and then used to spy on their owners -- The Independent
Edward Snowden: Smartphone users can do 'very little' to stop security services getting control of devices -- Independent
Edward Snowden reveals how Government can hack into YOUR smartphone and see EVERYTHING -- Express
Smartphones Can be Hacked With Just 1 Text, Says Edward Snowden -- AFP
Snowden: GCHQ Can Secretly Take 'Total Control' Over Your Smartphone -- Sputnik
Edward Snowden: No smartphone is safe from GCHQ spying -- V3
Spies can turn mobile phones on and off, claims Edward Snowden -- BT
Homesick Snowden lays out new allegations against GCHQ -- Deutsche Welle
Edward Snowden says UK spies can send 'Smurfs' to hack into your phone and gain 'total control' over it -- Business Insider

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Is Willing To Serve Jail Time In A Plea Deal In Order To Return To The U.S.

Atlantic: Edward Snowden Says He'd Go to Prison to Come Home

Speaking to the BBC, the NSA whistleblower said his lawyers were still awaiting a plea deal from the U.S. government.

Edward Snowden isn’t the spy who came in from the cold, but he might be edging slowly toward the warmth.

In an interview with the BBC, the beloved and reviled whistleblower said he’d presented concessions to the U.S. government in an attempt to return to his home country from Russia. “I’ve volunteered to go to prison with the government many times,” Snowden said, according to The Guardian. (The BBC program is not viewable in the U.S.) What I won’t do is I won’t serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations.”

But his overtures haven’t been met with any concrete plea offers: “We are still waiting for them to call us back.”

WNU Editor: U.S. authorities want to put him away for at least 20 to 30 years. And to make a deal now .... with a U.S. Presidential election around the corner .... it is not going to happen. Edward Snowden's best bet is to wait until after 2016 .... and hope that the political winds have changed in his favour. On a side note .... when his story first broke out and he was successful in gaining asylum in Russia .... I remarked that his life is going to go through a very difficult period .... especially when it comes to feelings of homesickness. My nationality is Russian .... but I am now a Canadian citizen living in the province of Quebec. There are times when I miss the old country .... no problem .... I take time off, and within 12 hours I can be in Moscow eating at my favourite restaurant. Edward Snowden does not have that option .... and he may never have it.

More News On Reports That NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Is Willing To Serve Jail Time In A Plea Deal In Order To Return To The U.S.

Edward Snowden on life as 'a marked man' -- BBC
Edward Snowden: I am willing to go to jail if I can return to the U.S. -- AP
Edward Snowden: I've Offered to Go to Prison in U.S. 'Many Times' -- NBC
Edward Snowden claims he volunteered to go to prison in exchange for return to the US - but his offer went unanswered -- Daily Mail
Edward Snowden: US has not offered me plea deal -- The Guardian
Edward Snowden Says He's Willing To Go To Prison In Order To Return To US -- IBTimes
Edward Snowden Offered to Serve Prison Time in Plea Offer -- Time
Snowden: I'm still waiting to hear back from DOJ on plea deal -- Politico
Whistleblower Edward Snowden Says He Would Return to the US to Face Prison -- Sputnik
Snowden willing to serve prison time for US return -- RT

A Look At The Current U.S. Presidential Race

President Obama shakes hands with Jeb Bush at Miami Central Senior High School in 2011. Jason Reed/Reuters

Will Rahm, Daily Beast: Jeb Bush Should Face Facts: It’s Time to Drop Out

Jeb, this isn’t working. You’re a bad candidate, and all you’re going to do now is damage the guy who can beat Trump. Is that what you want?

Jeb, this just isn’t going to work. After all that money spent, you’re still sagging nationally and in fourth place in New Hampshire, a state you need to win.

You’ve had nearly a year to make your case. It isn’t working. You should pack it in.

The conventional wisdom a few months ago was that your brother’s catastrophic presidency would be your bid’s biggest hurdle. Now, in a fit of desperation, it looks like you’re about to draft him to stump for you. Putting aside that George W. is still despised by a not-insignificant swath of the Republican electorate, how is that going to play in the general should you somehow win the nomination? You’re making the Democrats’ job easy, Jeb. They’ll be more than happy to attach you to his legacy, and you’re doing that for them.

WNU Editor: Two months ago I met a few Russian U.S.-watchers who wanted my take on upcoming U.S. election. I said Jeb Bush was going nowhere. He does not electrify the crowds, his policies even less so, and the legacy of his family has no appeal for a good chunk of the electorate. At the time they disagreed ..... a few days ago one of them said to me .... why is he still running? Will Rahm in the above Daily Beast post nails it .... You’ve had nearly a year to make your case. It isn’t working. You should pack it in.

Update: Here is an interesting post on the Democrat side .... Exclusive: Biden himself leaked word of his son's dying wish (Politico).

Drone Video Captures Incredible Footage Of Whales Swimming Around Paddleboarder

Epic Times: Drone Video Gets Amazing Shot Of A Whale Duo Swimming Around Paddleboarder

Dave Price was stand-up paddleboarding in waters off Esperance, Australia, when a pair of inquisitive Southern Right whales approached him.

Thanks to Esperance local Jaimen Hudson, who launched his quadcopter drone after hearing of the whales, the encounter was captured from above — a vantage point that shows just how large the animals are in comparison to Price and his board.

Hudson told ABC Esperance that the encounter seemed completely safe and that the whales were curious about Price.

WNU Editor: I know this particular post has nothing to do with war/defense/intelligence/politics .... it just a post on an incredible video that captures a solitary man with two massive whales swimming beside him. I call this my "little break" from the rest of the news in the world.

The Cost Of Avoiding The Syrian Civil War Has Been High

Residents walk past damaged buildings after what activists said were air strikes by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Douma neighborhood of Damascus February 6, 2015. REUTERS/AMER ALMOHIBANY

Richard Cohen, Washington Post: The high cost of avoiding war in Syria

In the desperate fight against the Islamic State, the Pentagon has it all wrong. It has been using color coding to designate the eligibility of various Syrian rebel groups to receive U.S. aid. According to the Wall Street Journal, some groups were assigned green dots while others were given red and some yellow. This is where things went wrong. The last color should have been saved for the White House.

I do not accuse, in case you’re wondering, President Obama of personal cowardice. I do, however, accuse him of an excess of caution and not knowing what he is doing. A Turkish official summed it up for the Journal this way: “The Americans color-coded; the Russians invaded.”

WNU Editor: A brutal assessment on U.S. policy towards Syria. What's my take .... in all fairness to President Obama .... he did run his election campaign with the promise that he would drastically reduce the U.S. military presence in the Middle East .... and the American public supported him on this policy .... in fact they still do. Getting involved in another major war in Syria is something that the U.S. public simply does not want to face.

President Obama Authorizes The Resupply Of Syria's Rebels

CNN: Obama authorizes resupply of Syrian opposition

Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama authorized the resupply of Syrian Kurds and the Arab-Syrian opposition as part of a strategy to put pressure on ISIS from the north and strengthen the border, according to two senior administration officials.

The approval came at a National Security Council meeting on Thursday.

CNN reported over the weekend that the President also emphasized to his team that the U.S. would continue to support the Syrian opposition as Russia enters the war-torn country.

"President Obama was clear that we intend to continue our efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL in Syria and to keep supporting the moderate Syrian opposition," the official said, using another name for ISIS.

WNU editor: Russia is forcing the White House to respond .... and they are responding quickly.

Russia Sends In Special Forces To Assist The Syrian Regime

Photo from Great Charlie

Mirror: Putin has sent the feared Spetsnaz special forces into Syria to bail out Assad.

The move is a blow to Britain and America’s mission to wipe out Islamic State but maintain an opposition to brutal dictator Assad

Russia has sent its crack special troops into Syria to back up ­ President Bashar al-Assad’s bid to wipe out his opposition.

Vladimir Putin’s feared Spetsnaz unit and a covert para battalion ghosted into the war-torn country and are preparing for an all-out assault on rebels fighting the regime – including moderate units such as the western-backed Free Syrian Army.

A military source said last night: “Putin’s marines are there to guard the airbases they are using against ­sabotage by rebels. But Spetsnaz and air-assault troops are not there to provide security to static objects, they are extremely aggressive and highly trained.

“They are there to mop up after air strikes, call in air strikes, go on extremely covert missions against rebels and ultimately wipe them out.

WNU Editor: This is a step up from earlier reports that regular Russian soldiers may enter the fight in Syria .... Russian Soldiers to Join Fight in Syria (NYT) ... and this deployment makes far more sense than some other reports stating that 150,000 Russian soldiers may be sent to Syria .... Report: Russia Planning To Send 150,000 Soldiers To Syria. There are also some other reports that Russian "mercenaries" may be sent in .... Russia may pay 'volunteers' $50 per day to fight in Syria against ISIS (CSM) .... but I am skeptical.

Update: A reliable contact that I know in Moscow has just told me that Russia's Zaslon Special Forces have been operating in Syria for the past few weeks. For those who may not know .... Russia's Zaslon Special Forces is the country;s top soldiers .... Russia's 'Zaslon' Military Operators Are So Shadowy They Make Ninjas Look Like Amateurs (Business Insider/Moscow Shadows).

Iran Boasts That Every U.S. Base In The Middle East Is Within Range Of Its Missiles

Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh. Trend.az

Washington Free Beacon: Iran: Missiles Pointed at U.S. Targets

Iran, Russia, Syria, Iraq form joint war room

A senior Iranian military leader warned this weekend that “all U.S. military bases in the Middle East are within the range of” Iran’s missiles and emphasized that the Islamic Republic will continue to break international bans on the construction of ballistic missiles.

Much of this missile work, like the details of Iran’s advanced arsenal, remains secret, according to Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force.

Hajizadeh dismissed the threat of military action by the United States, warning that all U.S. assets and allies are in range of Iran’s current missile arsenal, according to comments made Sunday in Tehran and recorded by Iran’s state-controlled Fars News Agency.

Update: The Nuclear Agreement Boosts Iran’s Missile Threat -- Defense News

WNU Editor: It looks like Iran's missile defence systems are also about to receive a boost .... Iran claims Russia has started delivery of S-300 missile defense system (Times of Israel).

Has The U.S. Abandon Its Efforts To Enforce The Iran Arms Embargo?

Reuters: U.S. enforcement of Iran arms embargo slipped during nuclear talks: sources

Addressing concerns that a landmark nuclear deal reached this year could boost Iran's military power, the Obama administration reassured critics that it would maintain and enforce its remaining tough sanctions against the country.

Yet the U.S. government has pursued far fewer violations of a long-standing arms embargo against Iran in the past year compared to recent years, according to a review of court records and interviews with two senior officials involved in sanctions enforcement.

The sharp fall in new prosecutions did not reflect fewer attempts by Iran to break the embargo, the officials said. Rather, uncertainty among prosecutors and agents on how the terms of the deal would affect cases made them reluctant to commit already scarce resources with the same vigor as in previous years, the officials said.

UpdateEnforcement of Iranian arms embargo by US dropped during nuclear talks -- i24 News/AFP

WNU Editor: Another broken promise from the White House (to enforce the arms embargo) .... and aside from Reuters and a few Israeli news organizations, no one else is covering this story.

Monday, October 5, 2015

How Will Russia's Military Campaign Impact The Price And Supply Of Oil?

The Telegraph: Russia bombing in Syria escalates oil price war with Saudi Arabia

The decision by Moscow to start bombing targets in Syria will rattle crude prices, argues Andrew Critchlow.

Vladimir Putin’s order to begin bombing targets in Syria has left many political pundits in Washington and London wondering exactly what Russia’s ultimate strategic goal is in the Middle East.

Aside from propping up Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the presence in Syria of Russian bombers flying missions against opposition targets marks the biggest deployment of Moscow’s forces in the region since the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.

Then, as now, oil had a big part to play in the Kremlin’s decision to strike. In 1979, as Russian tanks rolled into Kabul, oil was approaching $110 per barrel and the Islamic revolution in Iran weakened the West’s grip on the dynamics of supply and demand.

WNU Editor: Russia is probably using its oil revenues to finance its war in Syria .... and just like every other OPEC member .... is hurting from the low cost of oil. Is there a hidden oil strategy behind Russia's Syrian military campaign .... I just do not see it (right now). The above video is an examination from Al Jazeera on how Russia is financing its war in Syria.

Update: Hmmmm .... this is interesting .... Is Russia Plotting To Bring Down OPEC? (Dalan McEndree, OilPrice.com)

What If Russia Succeeds In Syria?

© Sputnik/ Dmitri Vinogradov

Alexander Mercouris, Sputnik: The West Fears Russia’s Success in Syria - Not Its Failure

The Western response to the Russian air campaign in Syria provokes a sense of deja vu.

In every respect it is identical to the Western response to the Russian campaign in Chechnya in 1999. In the weeks following the start of that campaign Western pundits made a host of claims and predictions. They claimed the Russian airforce was bombing civilians, and accused Russia’s leadership of war crimes. They said Russian military action would radicalise the population, turning it against Russia. They predicted more terrorist attacks against Russia, and predicted Russia’s defeat.

All these claims and predictions proved wrong.

The local population was not radicalised. Instead it supported the restoration of orderly government and the defeat of jihadism and terrorism. The people who now fight jihadism and terrorism in the Caucasus are principally local people.

WNU Editor: Syria is not Checnya if that is the model that the Russian military wants to employ in its Syrian campaign .... not even close. Syria is in the middle of a sectarian civil war  .... and every major power in the world is involved (or will be involved) to a certain degree in this conflict. A few thousand Russian soldiers and a few dozen planes are not going to make a difference.

NATO Warns Russia Over Turkish Airspace Violations

The Hill: NATO warns Russia after fighter jets enter Turkish airspace

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is calling on Russia to stop violating Turkish airspace, and immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians.

Russian fighter jets violated Turkey's airspace on Saturday and Sunday, according to NATO, after Moscow began an air campaign in Syria last week to bolster Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"Russian military actions have reached a more dangerous level with the recent violations of Turkish airspace on 3 October and 4 October by Russian Air Force SU-30 and SU-24 aircraft in the Hatay region," NATO said in a statement.

More News On NATO Warning Russia On Turkish Airspace Violations

NATO condemns 'extreme danger' of Russia's Turkish air incursions -- AFP
NATO denounces Russian incursion into Turkish air space -- Reuters
NATO condemns Russian incursion into Turkish airspace -- DW
NATO warns Russia over airspace violations as Syria airstrikes widen -- Washington Post
NATO warns Russia on Turkish airspace incursion -- USA Today
Syria conflict: Nato warns Russia on air strikes -- BBC
NATO warns Russia over airspace violations as Syria airstrikes widen -- Washington Post
NATO Demands Answers From Moscow Over Turkish Airspace Breach -- VOA
NATO, US stand by Turkey after Russian airspace violation -- Today's Zaman
US officials question Russian flight incursion into Turkey -- Washington Post