Streetwise Professor

June 2, 2012

Mendacious, Even by Putin’s Standards

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 12:42 pm

The latest official line on Syria is incredibly mendacious, even by Russian standards.  First, Putin claims that Russia is not taking sides:

“We have a good, long-standing relationship with Syria, but we do not support any side from which the threat of a civil war may emerge,” Putin told a joint news conference with Merkel.

Second, and worse, Putin made this remarkable statement:

“As for supplying weapons, Russia does not provide weapons that could be used in a civil conflict,” he added.

Just what kind of weapons cannot be used in a civil conflict?

Syria is using armor and artillery in its current onslaught, so those quite evidently can be used in a civil war.  Moreover, reports about the most recent shipment indicate that a Russian ship supplied small arms and ammunition to Syria:

The ship, the Professor Katsman, apparently turned off its transponder on May 26 in the vicinity of Tartus, Sadia Hameed of Human Rights First told AFP. The vessel had been tracked from Piraeus in Greece.

Hameed said she could not be sure of the cargo because there was no official manifest. “The sense we get is that (the ship’s contents) are small arms and ammunition.”

Nice touches.  No official manifest.  Turning off the transponder. Yup, VVP-obviously nothing to hide.

Previous shipments also apparently included small arms and ammunition:

The biggest importer of arms to Syria, Russia sold Damascus nearly $1 billion worth of arms including missile systems last year, while shipments of hard-to-track Russian small weapons have risen since the uprising against Assad started, government defectors say.

In January, the Russian ship Chariot, loaded with arms and ammunition, turned off its radar and sailed quietly to Syria to avoid attracting the attention of world powers increasingly frustrated by Russia and China’s refusal to back U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at ending 11 months of violence.

. . . .

ThomsonReuters shipping data shows at least four cargo ships since December that left the Black Sea port of Oktyabrsk – used by Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport for arms shipments – have headed for or reached the Syrian port of Tartous.

Separately was the Chariot, a Russian ship which docked at the Cypriot port of Limassol during stormy weather in mid-January. It promised to change its destination in accordance with a European Union ban on weapons to Syria but, hours after leaving Limassol, reset its course for Syria.

A Cypriot source said it was carrying a load of ammunition and a European security source said the ship was hauling ammunition and sniper rifles of the kind used increasingly by Syrian government forces against protesters.

Among the weapons provided earlier in the year were sniper rifles, obviously of no use at all in a civil conflict.

But don’t worry! If there are any weapons being shipped, it is because Russia has a contract with Syria to supply them, and we all know that the Russians are nothing if not honor bound to adhere punctiliously to contracts!:

Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin has rejected criticism of the arms sales insisting they are legal and have no influence on the Syria conflict.

“The weapons we may have provided to Syria under various contracts, which were concluded a long time ago, are fully in line with international law and do not contribute to the current armed violence in Syria,” Churkin told reporters on Wednesday.

Yes.  I’m sure that the Syrians just put those weapons aside, just to make sure they do not contribute to the current armed violence.

I note that it is quite easy to find numerous articles detailing contracts for small arms and ammunition entered into between Russia and Syria in the 2005-2006  time period: would that count as “a long time ago.”

Of course not all the weapons Russia has supplied to Syria-notably anti-aircraft missile systems and anti-tank weapons systems-have been used by the Assad regime in its attempt to crush the uprising.  But it is abundantly clear that since virtually every weapon in the Syrian arsenal is of Russian origin, and that Russia continues to supply weapons, Putin’s claim is a particularly bald-faced lie.

Given Putin’s clear willingness to stand right next to Angela Merkel, and mouth such outrageous untruths-in full knowledge that anyone who has been paying attention knows that they are untruths-should be more than sufficient to convince even the most naive and deluded that Russia will not back away from protecting Assad (and arming his regime) regardless of how many more Houlas there are.

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19 Comments »

  1. The Poles wanted Lech Walesa to receive the medal on Karski’s behalf, but the White House nixed the choice. Last year, during Mr. Obama’s visit to Poland, the hero of Solidarity refused to attend a large gathering to meet the younger leader. Mr. Walesa felt entitled to a tete-a-tete. Administration officials told Polish journalists that Mr. Walesa’s presence was too “political” for this week’s occasion.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303674004577435262640946168.html?mod=wsj_share_tweet

    A case of hurt ego taking revenge or something more “strategic”, like trying to please comrade Putin?

    Comment by Ivan — June 2, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

  2. @Ivan: Definitely sounds like “too political”=”still trying to suck up to Putin.” Idiots.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 2, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

  3. “Of course not all the weapons Russia has supplied to Syria-notably anti-aircraft missile systems and anti-tank weapons systems-have been used by the Assad regime in its attempt to crush the uprising.”

    Might be different if the opposition had any aircraft or tanks.

    Comment by deith — June 3, 2012 @ 4:18 am

  4. @deith-definitely.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 3, 2012 @ 7:19 am

  5. So let me get this right….

    Georgia responding to separatist attacks on civilian targets = Russian invasion without UN mandate and in violation of the UN charter & Russian led ethnic cleansing of Georgian civilians.

    Syrian government massacre of thousand of civilians = Russia saying that it is an internal matter and no country has the right to interfere in the internal situation in another country?!?!

    Typical Russian governmental Sovok scum aren’t they?

    Comment by Andrew — June 3, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

  6. And fall of Assad would benefit Israel how exactly?

    Comment by So? — June 4, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  7. Well So? The Israelis think it would. For example by stopping a mass slaughter of civilians and sectarian strife that is already spilling over into Lebanon. By removing a puppet of Iran, by causing a drying up of Syrian support for Hezbollah etc.

    Quite a few reasons actually.

    Comment by Andrew — June 4, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

  8. How has that worked out in Egypt? All quiet on the border, eh?

    Comment by So? — June 5, 2012 @ 2:56 am

  9. In anticipation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to France today, Reporters Without Borders activists joined with Russian, Syrian and Iranian activists in staging a demonstration in Paris at midday against the crackdowns under way in Russia, Syria and Iran. The starting point for the demonstration was Pont Alexandre III, a bridge named after a 19th century Russian Tsar.

    Chanting “Putin, Bashar, stop the repression” and “No veto on human rights,” the protesters urged the Russian leader to heed the calls to democratize Russian society and stop supporting the world’s most repressive regimes, starting with Syria and Iran, two countries where journalists pay dearly for trying to cover government-orchestrated crackdowns.

    “Putin is not just responsible for the dramatic loss of freedoms in Russia in the past decade,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Censorship and repression are also an integral part of the political ‘model’ he promotes internationally.

    “On the pretext of combating terrorism or promoting ‘traditional values,’ Russia plays a leading role in efforts to suppress freedom of expression and information in many international bodies. It is with Moscow’s complicity that the massacres have continued in Syria for more than 14 months and it is with Moscow’s support that the crackdown continues in Iran.”

    Putin was due to arrive in France this afternoon, after visiting Belarus and Germany. This is his first international trip since the start of his third term as president. The agenda for his talks in Paris with French President François Hollande includes the situation in Syria as well as energy and trade.

    Repressive heritage disputed in Russia

    “This visit comes at a remarkable time in Russia,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Putin has had to confront an unprecedented wave of unrest since his election, one that highlights the widening gap between the regime and Russian society.

    “The election campaign and his installation were accompanied by repeated intimidation of the media and suppression of peaceful demonstrations. In a frank and sincere dialogue, Putin would have to be told that this new mandate is his last chance to break with the repressive system he has created, both at home and abroad.”

    Putin’s first two terms, from 2000 to 2008, were marked by reassertion of control over most media, especially TV stations, total impunity for violence against journalists (of whom at least 26 have been killed in connection with their work since 2000) and imposition of an autocratic and brutal regime in Chechnya headed by his protégé, Ramzan Kadyrov. This heritage has been challenged by the unprecedented protests since December 2011.

    Within the United Nations, Russia blocks all binding resolutions on human rights and, together with China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, is promoting a resolution that would give member states a free hand to censor the Internet. In the UN Human Rights Council, Russia is heading a coalition of states that are trying to use “traditional values” and national idiosyncrasies as pretexts for disputing the universality of human rights.

    The fact that Putin reserved Belarus’s authoritarian regime the honour of receiving the first international visit of his new mandate says volumes about his commitment to human rights. Belarus saw a violent crackdown after a presidential election in December 2010 and more than 100 journalists were arrested in 2011 alone.

    Open complicity in Syria

    The Syrian government has been massacring its civilian population for 14 months with Russia’s complicity. Moscow continues to oppose any sanctions against Damascus, despite many appeals from the international community. It is no longer possible to keep track of all the civilian casualties. They include many journalists, who have been paying a high price.

    The terms of a 12 April ceasefire that UN special envoy Kofi Annan negotiated between the government and opposition forces included freedom of the media, freedom of assembly and the release of all political prisoners. It was never respected. Despite an international observer presence, 108 people were slaughtered last weekend in Houla. No one was convinced by Bashar al-Assad’s insistence that his soldiers and militiamen, the notorious shabiha, were not to blame.

    Ever since the start of the protests in March 2011, Assad and his regime have imposed a complete news blackout while stepping up their own propaganda. Journalists, bloggers and ordinary citizens and activists acting as journalists have been paying a high price for their determination to cover the atrocities taking place. Many, including four foreign reporters, have been killed.

    Journalists, bloggers and activists are systematically tracked down, arrested and tortured. Ordinary citizens who are contacted by foreign media are also arrested and convicted. More than 30 professional and amateur journalists are currently detained. And all the while, Moscow continues to support this brutal regime and to sell it arms.

    Comment by mohammed — June 5, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

  10. Let me get this right So? You consider that the Russian position is OK in both those situations?
    It is OK for Russian sponsored states to massacre their own civilians, but that it is not OK for countries like Georgia to defend their civilians from attacks by Russian sponsored separatists? (BTW, sponsoring separatists in another country is a direct breach of the UN charter…. and yes I know this applies to Kosovo, I did not approve of that either)

    Got to love your hypocrisy.

    Comment by Andrew — June 6, 2012 @ 1:30 am

  11. Russia has no monopoly on realpolitik, but pathetic as always Russian diplomacy makes it look like it does, however.

    Comment by So? — June 6, 2012 @ 1:58 am

  12. You didn’t answer the question So?, but then you seldom do.

    Comment by Andrew — June 7, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

  13. Position OK, presentation could use some work. A lot, actually.

    Comment by So? — June 8, 2012 @ 12:47 am

  14. OK, so you think it is OK for Russia to sponsor separatist movements in a neighboring country, Georgia, (in violation of the UN charter) supplying them with weapons, training, leadership, and political support, engage in ethnic cleansing in those separatist regions, and carry out a full scale invasion when the Georgian government responds to attacks on civilians by Russian sponsored terrorists. All the while using draconian methods against separatists in its own territories and complaining about Kosovo.

    You also think it is OK for Russia to support a murderously repressive regime in Syria, effectively blocking all attempts to pressure the Assad regime into some form of decent behavior, while at the same time supplying the Syrian government with weapons and equipment with which to better kill women and children?

    Really So? you are a piece of filth.

    BTW, another epic fail on a Russian missile test, no wonder they are panicking about a limited ABM system in Europe…..

    Comment by Andrew — June 9, 2012 @ 4:50 am

  15. ‘UFO’ over Middle East reportedly a Russian missile test

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/ufo-over-middle-east-reportedly-russian-missile-test-165058627.html

    Comment by Andrew — June 9, 2012 @ 7:29 am

  16. Things worked out just great in Libya, didn’t they? If Syria falls, Jordan falls. The whole of ME run by islamic atavists… But maybe that’s the whole idea. Iran is not exactly making great strides with its nuclear program, is it? LOL.
    What does Georgia have to do with anything?

    Comment by So? — June 10, 2012 @ 2:51 am

  17. Russian hypocrisy So?, that’s what Georgia has to do with anything.
    Russia states now that no country has the right to interfere in the internal matters of another, but they do it all the time, and they commit crimes against humanity by doing so.

    And the domino theory is BS, Jordan is not a dictatorial regime like Syria, and the royal family there is very popular.

    Things are not as bad in Libya as you seem to think BTW.

    Comment by Andrew — June 12, 2012 @ 2:31 am

  18. […] ready to send warships to Syria. Some more analysis of the Russia-Syria situation […]

    Pingback by Breakfast Links | Points and Figures — June 18, 2012 @ 5:33 am

  19. They still promote the view that the Libyan Revolution is a fake one ginned up by western imperialism and the NTC NATO puppets. I have some questions for these folks. If the Libyan revolution was orchestrated by U.S. imperialism and the NTC, a NATO “puppet regime”:

    1.) Why are there no NATO bases in Libya?

    2.) Why are there no NATO troops in Libya?

    3.) Why did they refuse to turn over the so-called Lockerbie Bomber as demanded by the West?

    4.) Why did they stop and expose the CIA’s special rendition program in Libya?

    5.) Why is the revolutionary commander of Tripoli Head of the Military Council of Tripoli, Abdel Hakim Belhaj suing former British foreign minister Jack Straw?

    During the Libyan Revolution, the pro-Ghadafi forces, with help from Russia and Iran, developed this fantastic network of Internet websites and blogs that spread Ghadafi’s war stories far and wide so that they would be replicated so many times that they would be the first thing found by the search engines.

    Now that the real facts of the situation in Libya last year are coming to light, we are in a position to compare the Ghadafi lies, and those of his parrots with the reality on the ground. Let’s take just one example – the March 19 NATO bombing of Libya. From the AJE tapes released last month of phone calls between Qaddafi and his cronies we have this.

    A crowd of hundreds, many wearing green to show their support for Muammar Gaddafi, gathered in Tripoli on March 20 for a mass funeral. They were burying dozens of civilians – some of them children – killed overnight in NATO airstrikes.

    Or so they were told. Among the thousands of wiretapped conversations obtained by Al Jazeera are several which show this “funeral” was actually a bit of stage-managed propaganda, organized by Tayeb El Safi, one of Gaddafi’s most trusted henchmen.

    The day before the funeral, El Safi and an unknown caller can be heard joking about a NATO airstrike which destroyed an office used by Gaddafi’s aides.

    During the Libyan Revolution, the pro-Ghadafi forces, with help from Russia and Iran, developed this fantastic network of Internet websites and blogs that spread Ghadafi’s war stories far and wide so that they would be replicated so many times that they would be the first thing found by the search engines.

    Now that the real facts of the situation in Libya last year are coming to light, we are in a position to compare the Ghadafi lies, and those of his parrots with the reality on the ground. Let’s take just one example – the March 19 NATO bombing of Libya. From the AJE tapes released last month of phone calls between Qaddafi and his cronies we have this.
    http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=851

    Comment by mohammed — June 18, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

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