While confrontation between Russia and the West was, until recently, confined to the polite ambit of international diplomacy, within the confines of the UN Nations Security Council, an uncertain and perilous situation is now unfolding in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Allied forces including intelligence and special forces have reinforced their presence on the ground in Syria following the UN stalemate. Meanwhile, coinciding with the UN Security Council deadlock, Moscow has dispatched to the Mediterranean a flotilla of ten Russian warships and escort vessels led by the Admiral Chabanenko anti-submarine destroyer. Russia’s flotilla is currently stationed off the Southern Syrian coastline.
Back in August of last year, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin warned that “NATO is planning a military campaign against Syria to help overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad with a long-reaching goal of preparing a beachhead for an attack on Iran,…” In relation to the current naval deployment, Russia’s navy chief, Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov, confirmed, however, that while the [Russian] flotilla was carrying marines, the warships would “not be engaged in Syria Tasks”. “The ships will perform “planned military manoeuvres”, said the [Russian Defense] ministry”
The US-NATO alliance has retorted to Russia’s naval initiative, with a much larger naval deployment, a formidable Western armada, consisting of British, French and American warships, slated to be deployed later this Summer in the Eastern Mediterranean, leading to a potential “Cold War style confrontation” between Russian and Western naval forces.
Meanwhile, US-NATO military planners have announced that various “military options” and “intervention scenarios” are being contemplated in the wake of the Russian-Chinese veto in the UN Security Council.
The planned naval deployment is coordinated with allied ground operations in support of the US-NATO sponsored “Free Syrian Army”(FSA). In this regard, US-NATO has speeded up the recruitment of foreign fighters trained in Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.