It could have been a scene straight out of "Dr. Strangelove" when President Vladimir V. Putin stepped into the Russian Ministry of Defense's brand new, three-tiered, multibillion-dollar control center this week, for a war briefing that had its fair share of movie-like pageantry.
The fortified National Control Defense Center was Putin's first stop after officials confirmed that the Russian charter jet crash that claimed 224 lives last month was the result of an act of terror.
On movie-theater-size screens, live broadcasts showed long-range strategic bombers taking off from Russian air bases to fly sorties over Syria. Putin instructed commanders in Syria to "make contact with the French and work with them as allies" as Russia seeks a central role in a proposed anti-terrorist coalition.
But the real star of the show may have been the building itself, which is designed to be a new nerve center for the Russian military that will coordinate military action around the world, including ballistic missile launches and strategic nuclear deployments.
The building is roughly the equivalent of the U.S. National Military Command Center used by the Pentagon, but as one Russian state news agency noted in a breathless headline this week, "Russian Defense Data Center Outperforms US Facility Threefold: Official."
The center, which is fortified and said to sit on top of a maze of underground tunnels, is on the Frunze Naberezhnaya on the left bank of the Moscow river, a little over two miles from Red Square.
It was finished in 2014 and is part of a massive, decade-long modernization of Russia's army, which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars, but has also produced noted improvements, from the expertise of Russian troops deployed during the Crimea operation to the recent cruise missile strikes launched from the Caspian Sea.
The new national defense center also includes a helicopter pad that was deployed on the Moscow River late last year and can accommodate Russia's Mi-8 transport helicopter. In case of a war, it would be the country's premier communications center, and one Russian commander compared it to the military headquarters of the Soviet Union during World War II
Putin doesn't give a rat's ass about ISIS.
Ali Alfoneh, senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies, said: “President François Hollande, who cannot count on Washington deploying ground forces in Syria, is now reaching out to Iran and Russia to form an alliance in the fight against Daesh [Isis].
“This in turn legitimises Iran’s military engagement in Syria, which Washington considers as one of the root causes of emergence of Daesh in that country. In that sense, the terrorist attacks in Paris came as manna from heaven for Tehran.”
The attacks in Paris have not changed the unwillingness of the United States and the other members of NATO to involve their ground forces in Syria.
"Battle with ISIS . . . " --crap like that cracks me up. Putin did not send troops and planes to Syria to battle ISIS.
You're an idiot . . . but we already knew that. You run off and grab the first article you can find about Syria, and quote and link it. The article has nothing to do with French, or Russian or Chinese involvement in Syria, or a possible alliance of China and Russia--which is, in case you've forgotten, the subject of Sofia's thread. You are always so eager to portray yourself as wise and possessed of a sophisticated knowledge of current events, and all you do is make yourself look like a fool.
But Beijing knows that China cannot play an active military role at the moment and is therefore in favor of negotiations. The country's chances of boosting its influence in global political terms are good. Its basic argument is that the Syrians should decide about Syria and the country has to maintain its unity and integrity. This position is surprisingly close to that of Germany. The US, on the other hand, wants regime change at all costs, even if this is achieved through military means. Russia wants to maintain the regime at all costs, even if this is achieved through military means.
Since Putin started letting weapons speak, the two sides have had to be extremely careful that an American does not end up shooting a Russian and vice versa.
With Beijing's entrance in the game, the chances of a negotiated solution have been improved.
Merkel and Beijing
The Germans in particular are hoping that Beijing will play a constructive role, as it did in the nuclear negotiations with Iran. China ended up being an important mediator between Tehran and Washington, for which it has received repeated praise in German government circles, albeit quietly so as not to upset the US.
Angela Merkel would be glad if China took over the reins as soon as possible. She is under extreme pressure because of the refugees. Stability and peace in Syria are now far more important to her than regime change or punishing Assad. Berlin's interests are therefore more in line with those of Russia and China than those of the US. However, Merkel does not want to position herself openly against Washington and does not want to be seen whispering with Putin.
However, she can definitely make it clear that peace is not possible without the UN veto powers Russia and China, without upsetting Washington. That's what she meant last week in Beijing when she said it was "high time" a "political and diplomatic solution" were found.
The problem for her now is that as long as Assad is sitting more safely in his seat Beijing is under less pressure and will therefore wait patiently for a more opportune constellation and a simpler solution. Beijing wants to avoid playing a different role for as long as possible. Putin has also got time. He wants his seat at the negotiating table to be as big as possible. If the price for this is that he will have to continue bombing for a few months, so be it.
The president said there was increasing awareness on the part of the Russians that Islamic State represents a greater threat to them "than anything else in the region." He has criticized President Vladimir Putin for being more interested in propping up President Bashar Assad than combating a terrorist threat that he said took down a Russian airliner; on Sunday he reiterated that Assad could not play a role in any solution to the Syrian civil war.
"There are large numbers of members of this coalition including President Hollande who agree with me on that," he said.
Crocker had said: “This is your legacy. Look what’s happened in Iraq in the four years since we pulled out, militarily and politically. Who’s in our space? [Isis] is in part of it. Iran and their proxy militias, who are commanded by men who murdered American servicemen, are in other parts of it. That’s not good.”
He added: “With the president and with his inner circle of advisers ... there’s a profound allergy to in any way getting re-engaged with Iraq, even politically ... They got elected on getting out of Iraq and that’s just hardwired into them.
Crocker added that a large-scale Isis attack on America was likely. “The probability is so high, we should be planning our day-after strategy the day before. With that apocalyptic vision now in front of us, how are we going to respond?”
He bemoaned the lurches in US policy under Bush and Obama.
“I learnt two things in a foreign service career [of 30 years],” he said. “The first is: be careful what you get into because unintended consequences are always in force.
“The second is: be careful what you get out of because the consequences of disengagement can be as grave as those of intervention ... In Iraq we screwed it up at both ends.”
Iran even has fighter jets working with Putin's force.
There is bullshit, utter bullshit and Daily Express headlines. Reading the paper on Wednesday 1 April, I hadn’t the faintest idea which stories were supposed to be serious and which were April fools.
As the website expressbingo.org.uk points out, the paper has only about 12 front pages:
Benefit Cheats/Immigrants/Criminals Will Eat Your Babies
A Miracle Cure for Alzheimer’s/Diabetes/Cancer/Arthritis is Just Around the Corner
Madeline McCann is ... About To Be Found/Still Missing/Somewhere Even More Improbable Than Last Time
House Prices Soar Beyond Your Wildest Dreams ... etc.
The same themes come round and round, the wording marginally altered. But the story that fills more front pages than any other is the weather.
Express weather is not like normal weather. It’s not the weather we experience, or at least not yet. Express weather is what you might encounter on Mars or Venus: extreme heat or extreme cold interspersed with wild storms.
That its predictions are as contradictory as they are bizarre and that they seldom come to pass seems to deter their repetition not one jot. The newspaper appears to assume that its readers have thistledown memories: no recollection of the predictions it made even a few days before. Given that people continue to buy this rubbish, it may, unfortunately, be right.