World View: Russia Pours Military Weapons and Personnel into Syria

Vladimir Putin
The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russia and China show interest in the Arctic’s oil and gas reserves
  • Russia pours military weapons and personnel into Syria

Russia and China show interest in the Arctic’s oil and gas reserves

Russian natural gas reservoirs under construction in the Arctic circle (Getty)
Russian natural gas reservoirs under construction in the Arctic circle (Getty)

Russia’s Northern Fleet has just wrapped up large-scale military exercises in the Arctic, which included launch 12 sea- and ground-launched cruise missiles, and defending against them with defense missile systems. Some 50 warships, submarines, and 10 aircraft took part.

Hardly a week passes without some announcement of a new Russian deployment in the Arctic region. There are 40 icebreakers, and Russia is building 11 more. There are reportedly 100 new nuclear weapons deployed in the Arctic, as well as most of Russia’s strategic nuclear missile submarines. More recently, Russian announced the deployment of short-to-medium-range anti-aircraft battalions, and other air defense and naval forces. These military deployments are consistent with Russia’s claims for an enormous expanse of the Arctic continental shelf, including the North Pole.

Russia’s enormous claims, combined with its aggressive military deployments, are raising anxieties in other countries, particularly China.

The Arctic region has been found to have oil reserves of more than 90 billion barrels, about 13 percent of the global total. There are also 47 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, 30 percent of the world total.

Although China is not an Arctic state, it has begun defining itself as a “near-Arctic state,” a claim that a suspicious person might note sounds similar to the kinds of claims that China is making in the South China Sea.

China raised eyebrows last month when it refused to sign on to a global Climate Change statement. This suggests that the December 2015 Climate Change conference in Paris will not have the resounding success that climate change aficionados hope for. At the same time, China sent five warships to the Bering Strait to demonstrate China’s interest in the Arctic and its capability to function as a global blue water navy.

The Arctic and the South China Sea have in common potentially immense sources of energy for any country that controls them. So far, tensions in the Arctic are nowhere nearly as high as they are in the South China Sea, but with so much at stake, that’s sure to change. Sputnik News (Moscow) and Jamestown and The Diplomat and Caixin (Beijing, 5-Feb-2015)

Russia pours military weapons and personnel into Syria

The US administration apparently has been caught by surprise by the speed of Russia’s military deployment into Syria, just a few days after statements by US officials that they were sure whether Russia intended to use force in Syria at all.

To date, Russia has over 25 fighter and attack aircraft, 15 helicopters, nine tanks, three surface-to-air missile systems and at least 500 personnel on the ground in Syria. Russia is already flying surveillance drones over the country, and appears to be preparing for air strikes in defense of the Bashar al-Assad regime.

The Obama administration has issued one hard-hitting statement after another in the last few days, and Monday was no exception. Here’s what we heard from Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis:

We are keenly aware of what is happening there. We continue to believe that anything that’s done in support of the Assad regime, particularly militarily, is counter-productive and risks worsening an already bad situation. …

This has the Secretary’s attention and it has the attention of our senior leaders, and we’re absolutely concerned about the potential for confliction and the need to de-conflict.

With no de-conflicting in sight, and with ongoing confliction, it’s hard to overestimate the significance of these developments, as I wrote two weeks ago in “13-Sep-15 World View — Russia opens a dangerous new chapter in Syria and the Mideast.”

The message is pretty clear that Russia is planning to take control of Syria’s airspace, and possibly Iraq’s as well, and that American warplanes will be forced to stay out, except with Russia’s explicit permission. With Russia, Iran and Bashar al-Assad’s regime in control of much of Syria and Iraq, nationalistic and belligerent responses will be triggered from militant groups, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states.

As I have been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that Iran and Russia will be US allies in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war. Those predictions are coming true rapidly, as the Mideast heads for a secular war that will consume the region. CNN and Daily Beast

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Northern Fleet, Arctic, China, Climate change, Paris, Bering Strait, South China Sea, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Jeff Davis, Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia
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