Tag Archives: Russia

Russia fighter aircraft breached Israel air space (too), so what??!!

29 Nov

In 1970, relations between Israel and the USSR were bad. Really bad. The Soviets were supporting Egypt against Israel. Their pilots were even flying Egyptian aircraft. On one occasion n 1970, they ambushed an Israeli aircraft and damaged it. To deter the Soviets from ever taking such action again, five days later the Israeli air force shot down 5 Soviet MiGs in retaliation. No Israeli aircraft were ever attacked by Soviet-piloted MiGs after that.

Fast forward 45 years later. We now share a border with the Russian air force, which is based in Syria. One of their fighter jets recently breached Turkish territory (after numerous warnings and demands by the Turks). What happened? It was shot down.

Well, it turns out that Russian aircraft have breached our territory, on more than one occasion. And what happened? (Lets remember that Israel shot down a Syrian aircraft last year after breached our territory). Well in the case of Russians, the only thing that were engaged were the phone lines, not Russian aircraft. According to Amos Gilad, director of the political-security division in the Israeli Defense Ministry:

“Russian air force pilots at times cross into Israeli air space. [But] thanks to the excellent security coordination [between Israel and Russia], which started right after the meeting between [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin [two months ago], and in which defined areas of operation were set, the Israel Defense Forces and the Russian military agreed on security agreements,”..“If there is a violation [of Israeli airspace], we know what to do and how to prevent an escalation,”.

What about Israeli aircraft breaching Syrian airspace to attack Hezbollah targets in that country? Would the Russians attack Israeli planes during such operations? well, the statement below by Gilad makes the Israel – Russian agreement regarding the rules of engagement over Syria pretty clear:

“in understandings with the Russians, Israel has the freedom to operate to prevent the transfer of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah.”


What about Russia’s nuclear doctrine?

20 Sep

Worried about Iran’s nuclear program? well, many of us have been, especially over the last 10 years. Now that a deal has been reached, its going to be more difficult for Iran to make a nuclear weapon, and there is even a lesser chance that if it somehow manages to make a weapon, that it would actually use it.

What about Russia’s nuclear arsenal? Of course Iran and Russia are not the same, but according to a senior US defense official:

“As you look at published Russian doctrine, I do believe people are thinking about use of tactical nuclear weapons in a way that hadn’t been thought about for many years,”

The same  official went on to say:

“The doctrine clearly talks about it, so it would be irresponsible to not at least read that doctrine, understand what it means. Doctrine certainly doesn’t mean that they would do it, but it would be irresponsible to at least not be thinking through those issues. Any time there is nuclear saber rattling, it is always a concern, no matter where it comes from.”

I am not an alarmist, but the statement “I do believe people are thinking about use of tactical nuclear weapons in a way that hadn’t been thought about for many years” is one which is worth noting.

What does Putin think about #Iran and #Israel security concerns?

21 Jan

Vladimir Putin. Source: Wikipedia

Yesterday, Iran and Russia signed a military cooperation deal.

According to AFP:

The deal provides for joint exercises and military training, as well as “cooperation in peacekeeping, maintaining regional and international security and stability, and fighting against separatism and extremism,” the Iranian defence ministry website said.

It’s not clear whether Russia will finally supply the S-300 missiles as part of this latest deal. Some say a solution has been found but many in Iran will be forgiven for not trusting Russia. Time will tell.

It must be remembered that in 2007 Iran and Russia signed a $800 million agreement according to which Russia was supposed to have been delivered the S-300 missiles.

Since 2007, not only Russia has not delivered the missiles (which it had built), it even went as far as dismantling and recycling them. Iran decided to launch a lawsuit against Russia, demanding $4 billion in compensation.

There are people both in Israel and Iran who mistrust Putin. They see him as someone who can not be trusted.

The question is: what does Putin think about Iran and Israel’s security concerns? Does he dismiss them? Does he think Israel is exaggerating? Does he believe that Iran is the victim or the aggressor?

This segment of his interview which he gave to the Kremlin controlled RT shows his opinion. It was filmed in June 2013, before the Ukraine crisis. Nevertheless, I think it says a lot about his level of understanding regarding both countries, and their security concerns.

Russia to gain a foothold in Cyprus?

15 Jan

The Voice of Russia, quoting Cyprus Weekly wrote on January 10th:

Cyprus is allowing Russian military aircraft to use the Andreas Papandreou military airbase near Paphos, as well as opening Limassol port to its naval vessels, Cyprus Weekly said on Friday.

The same piece goes on to say that ” an agreement to that effect is yet to be concluded.”

So for now it’s happening on an ad hoc basis, but according to the same article “(Cypriot) Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou on Thursday submitted a proposal, in agreement with the Foreign Ministry, that initial use of the base will be limited to aircraft for humanitarian and emergency situations.”

OK, so the Russians are not going to have a permanent base in Cyprus, like the Royal Air Force does.

Nevertheless, this is still an important achievement for the Russians. It allows them safe passage to evacuate their citizens and personnel from Syria, if the situation gets worst there.

More importantly, Russia has managed to convince a country which has close relations with two NATO member states (UK and Greece), to allow it to use an important airbase and a port on its soil. This does not happen very often. I am sure the Brits and the Americans are not pleased, to say the least.

So how did Russia do this?

The Cypriot based Famagusta Gazzette has its own theory:

Analysts have long predicted that Russia has been using the velvet glove of diplomacy to gain a military foothold in Cyprus – after the fallout to Russian depositors from the March 2013 bailout soured relations, followed by Russian reluctance to restructure Moscow’s €2.5bn loan to Nicosia.

According to reliable sources, there has been a fluid series of communications between the Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and Cyprus Defence Minister Fotis Photiou over the past nine months.

“Russian reluctance to restructure Moscow’s €2.5bn loan to Nicosia” seems like a plausible enough theory. You gotta hand it to Putin.

Jordan to go nuclear by 2021

11 Dec

McMaster Nuclear Reactor- Canada

In case you didn’t notice (and many of us did not) Jordan has just signed a deal with Russia for the construction of a nuclear reactor.

Here are some interesting points about this deal:

  • This is the first signed nuclear deal after the Fukushima nuclear leak in Japan in 2011.
  • Jordan is a US ally. Yet it chose a Russian company over a Canadian and a Japanese company that were also shortlisted as final bidders. No raised voices from the US.
  • The Jordanian chose a Russian company, despite Russia’s disastrous performance in Iran over the building of the Bushehr nuclear reactor which is 12 years late.
  • What is even more interesting is that both the Bushehr reactor and the Jordanian one are of the same design (VVER-1000), with the Jordanian reactor being a more modern version.
  • The VVER-1000 uses fuel rods which are produced from enriched uranium.
  • According to Al Monitor “In March, Jordan refused to sign a US nuclear accord that would restrict it from enriching uranium. Enrichment is a sovereign right and potential source of Jordanian income, Toukan said. He envisions Jordan as a future “regional fuel bank,” mining, enriching and selling uranium around the Middle East. ( Toukan is the chairman of Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC)
  • A regional fuel bank is a great idea. But in the Middle East? Seriously? We saw what happened to the Arab league.
  • Jordanian people are actually getting the opportunity to have a say about whether they want nuclear power, or not. Unlike Iran.
  • Nobody is losing sleep over this in Israel, yet. Think threat perception.

On Syria, Putin validates pessimism

20 Sep

As I mentioned five days ago, I am not optimistic about the Russian sponsored deal regarding Syria’s chemical weapons. I have great doubts that Assad will actually live up to his commitment.

My sense of pessimism only grew yesterday after Putin’s remarks at the plenary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in the Novgorod Region on the 19th of September.

First was his comment that:

“I am not 100% sure that the Syrian cabinet will comply with the US-Russian chemical weapons deal, but I think there is hope”

Putin has close relations with Assad, yet he is not sure that he will comply. This only strengthens the pessimists among us in countries who have no relations with Syria or influence over it, such as Israel.

The Russian president also stated in the same speech:

“I just want to remind [everyone] that Syria’s chemical weapons cache was built up in response to Israel’s nuclear capabilities,” said Putin, adding that “Israel has technological superiority and doesn’t need nuclear weapons.”

To me this is Putin’s way of justifying the possibility that Assad will hold some of his chemical weapons back and not declare them to the UN. Otherwise why say this? Assad has used his chemical weapons against his own people. What has Israel got to do with this?

Little chance before that Assad would give up his entire chemical weapons stock, even less now.

Syria and Russia at the UNGA

19 Sep

Everyone is focusing on Iran at the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting.

But what about Syria?

And Russia?

Assad recently received a major boost when the US and Russia reached an agreement over the fate of his chemical weapons. So he will be forgiven for having a spring in his step. The same goes for the Russians, especially Putin.

This will make the Russian and Syrian speeches at the UN also very interesting.

It will be interesting to see how Putin’s success re: Syria has impacted his position at home.

Also, is it just me or did you also notice how silent Hamas was when the idea of attacking Syria was being addressed by the Americans? Well, when Assad is bombarding Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, who can blame Hamas for not caring if Assad gets bombed?

In fact they could have been as disappointed as Israel when Assad was saved from America’s cruise missiles and fighter jets.