In the past few weeks the Russian Khmeimim Airbase in Lattakia, Syria has been attacked twice. Once, on New Year’s Eve, the base was attacked by terrorist infiltration squads armed with mortars. The attacks resulted in the death of two Russian soldiers and the damaging of a number of Russian aircraft. On January 6, the base was attacked again, this time by one of the weirdest operations of the last few years. The base came under fire by 13 armed drones who were either shot down or brought down by electronic warfare means by the Russian forces. Where these drones originated from, who operated them, and from where they were controlled are all mysteries.
While the most likely suspects are terrorist groups on the ground, some have suspected Turkey of either providing the technology while others have pointed directly to the United States. The Russian government has even suggested the United States may have been behind the attacks without actually saying so directly. Russian officials have stated that the drones were not just basic drone technology that is widely available on the market but, instead, a type of technology that requirement a high level of expertise greater than anything any group in Syria is known to possess at this time. The Russian Defense Ministry also pointed out the “coincidental” presence of the U.S. Poseidon reconnaissance plane was in the skies of the area for four hours during the time which the assault took place.
U.S. corporate press is, of course, floating the most ludicrous conspiracy theories possible, even suggesting that Syria and Iran colluded to attack Russian forces, a ridiculous notion, and the U.S. military is denying any responsibility or involvement in the attack.
However, despite the mystery surrounding the incident, statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin indicate that the Russians are sure of where they came from and who was behind them. As RTreports,
Recent attacks on Russia’s Khmeimim Airbase in Syria were a provocation aimed at undermining the country’s relations with its partners Turkey and Iran and the peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis, Vladimir Putin said.
“Those were provocations aimed at disrupting the earlier agreements, in the first place. Secondly, it was about our relations with our partners – Turkey and Iran. It was also an attempt to destroy those relations,” the Russian President said during a meeting with the editors-in-chief of Russian papers and news agencies in Moscow. “We have a perfect understanding of that and will act in solidarity.”
“There were provocateurs there, but they were not Turks,” Putin said, refuting earlier reports saying the attacks on the Russian airbase were carried out by Turkoman units backed by Ankara. “We know who they are. We know whom and how much they paid for these provocations,” Putin said, without naming the organizers of the attacks.
Russian military sites in Syria were targeted in two major attacks in the past two weeks, one on New Year’s Eve and another on January 6. The first assault, reportedly carried out by an infiltration squad armed with mortars, resulted in two Russian servicemen being killed and damage to warplanes at Khmeimim Airbase. The second involved 13 drones armed with bomblets, which were all either shot down or forced to land via means of electronic warfare by Russian forces.
According to the head of state, the attacks on Khmeimim Airbase were “well-prepared.”
“We know when and where those unmanned aerial vehicles were handed over and how many there were,” he said.
“Those aircraft were only camouflaged – I want to emphasize this – to look like handicraft production. In fact, it is quite obvious that there were elements of high-tech nature there,” Putin said.
It is relatively clear from Putin’s statements that Russia is convinced that the mastermind behind the attacks were advanced state actors and, if it was not Turkey or Russia’s allies, the list of potential attackers with the means and motive to do so grows shorter and shorter. If the United States did play a role in this attack, it is a rather drastic increase of hostilities between the two powers.