Airspace over Syria became very congested and contested this past Saturday 14 April. At 4 am US, British, and French strike aircraft destroyed three targets suspected of being connected to the Syrian Chemical Weapons program. These air strikes on the chemical weapons facilities brought swift reprisals from Vladimir Putin and the Russian Ambassadors to the US and UN. The Russians feel threatened in the US-Russia-Iran-Israel proxy war taking place in Syria.
Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Twitter, “Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.” He went on to say “Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible. The US – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame other countries.”
What could those possible consequences be to the Nation’s DIME?
In the Diplomatic area,
On 9 April Russian Envoy to the UN Vasily Nebenzia fiercely stated on the Security Council floor the chemical weapons attack on Douma Syria was “staged” and any military action in response brings “grave consequences.”
Early Saturday US and coalition aircraft launched long range cruise missiles at the three targets.
Saturday morning Envoy Nebenzia submitted a Security Council resolution condemning the air strikes the night before. The Russian diplomatic measure condemned the “aggression,” demanding the three allied partners refrain from further military action. The resolution did not pass the Security Council vote. China and Bolivia voted with Russia in condemning US, British, and French action. All other Security Council members rejected in strong terms the Russian resolution.
The real loser in the air strike may be Vladimir Putin. After all his rhetoric, the Russian military in Syria could do nothing to stop the attack. And we may never know the content of the suspected chemical weapons sites as investigators have been blocked from analyzing the sites.
In the Informational arena,
The information war resulting from the air attack continues. Prior to the attack, Putin flatly said his military would shoot down US missiles, which did not happen. Ambassador Antonov said afterward “Insulting the president of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.” Russia and the Assad government continue to say the Barzeh Science Research Center produced antidotes to snake venom, no chemical weapons are produced in the facility.
There is a lot to cover in the Military area,
Many have asked me can the Russians really shoot down our missiles? Maybe… if they can find them. US airwar planners learned the lessons of Israel’s Operation Orchard, the air strike on the Syrian nuclear plant near Deir ez Zor. Saturday morning Syrian air defenses fired blindly after the cruise missiles hit their targets. Russians did not respond from their Latakia airbase. Comforting to Assad I’m sure.
Adding insult to injury, the Israeli Air Force destroyed an Iranian military facility near Damascus. They claim Iran stored “advanced” air defense surface-to-air missile system at the facility later the same day. The IAF strike package also penetrated Syrian airspace and returned without a scratch. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following statement after the attack. The Begin Doctrine states no country will threaten Israel and its existence, and the IAF lost an F-16 a couple weeks ago.
I learned some critical information in the Economic area,
Additional sanctions implemented against Russia because of Putin’s support to Assad are having an effect. The Russian Ruble is weak right now but Putin can hit Americans, Britons, and the French in their pocketbooks. And it’s an economic leverage tool Putin used in 2014 I was unaware of until talking recently with a Delta Airlines Captain. Putin has threatened to close his airspace to US airline overflights, causing airliners to fly longer, more expensive routes around Russia. American and Delta flights from Detroit to Peking China take longer to reach Peking without Russian overflight, creating two critical issues. Airlines are operating with a shortage of pilots to fly longer routes and rising fuel costs. Airline pilots have restrictions on how many hours they can fly. Swapping aircrews also takes intermediate stops. Longer flights consume more fuel and all of you have seen the rise in gas cost at the pump as the travel season is upon us. These costs are passed on to you, the passengers. But Putin also loses money when overflight fees decrease, so its a two edged sword closing airspace.
— Final note, please let me know your feedback and suggestions on Twitter, your thought on this weeks DIME, and what do you want more or less of? Let me know by sending a tweet to @MarkHasara and put #nationsdime in the header.
Have a great weekend!
P.S. — If you’re reading my book Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in a review on Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here. I read them all.