President Putin in a Saturday statement given to the press significantly ramped up his rhetoric regarding a potential clash with the United States over Syria.
TASS media quoted him as saying that “Russia is ready for any scenario” if it comes to that, but still “does not want a direct military clash with the US.”
This summer has seen a series of near-miss incidents between Russian fighter jets and American MQ-9 Reaper drones. In two incidents this month, the US drones were actually damaged from the encounters, which has reportedly involved the Russian warplanes shooting flares or else possibly dumping fuel.
The US drones can be damaged by these flares, which according to the Pentagon has happened. When asked about this, Putin stressed in the new comments that “we are always ready for any scenario, but no one wants this.”
“On an American initiative, we once created a special mechanism to prevent these conflicts; we have department heads that communicate directly with each other, and consult on any crisis situation,” he said of a military-to-military contact hotline intended to avoid inadvertent clash. “This shows that no one wants clashes.”
Both sides have blamed the other for ‘unsafe’ and ‘irresponsible’ aerial operations over Syria. Russia’s RT has tallied the following, from Moscow’s perspective:
The Russian military has reported a total of 23 dangerous incidents involving its aircraft and those of the US-led coalition since early 2023, said Admiral Oleg Gurinov, the head of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria. Most incidents took place in July, he added.
In 11 cases, Russian pilots recorded being targeted by Western weapon systems. Such provocations by the US-led coalition led to the automatic engagement of onboard defense systems which released decoy flares, the admiral told journalists.
Just last week, a US Reaper drone was said to be “severely damaged” after a high-risk intercept by a Russian Su-35 fighter.
These near-misses over Syrian skies also come amid the backdrop of the Ukraine war, where the nuclear-armed superpower rivals keep inching toward potential direct conflict. Russian media has framed Putin’s new comments as also a warning directed against NATO broadly, in the contexts of both Syria and Ukraine.
Previously, we’ve pointed out that In Syria, successive US administrations going back to Obama have justified any and all US military actions as based on “countering ISIS” – even though at this point the Islamic State has long been driven underground and was defeated. Russia and Syria have charged that the US really just wants to steal Syria’s oil and gas resources, as part of the continued economic war against Damascus.
Days ago, The Wall Street Journal appeared to agree with this assessment, in a rare and surprise admission…
Where are the terrorists vs. where is the American troop occupation located? WSJ belatedly concedes the following…
“The U.S. still has about 900 troops in Syria that are assisting a local partner, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, in combating the remnants of Islamic State,” the report acknowledges. “But those U.S. troops are operating in the east, far from the northwest enclave where suspected Islamic State and al Qaeda leaders have been operating.”
This mainstream media admission concerning jihadist-infested Idlib province in Syria’s northwest, while good, comes many years late, as is typical of belatedly acknowledged inconvenient truths.