Joaquin Flores — Fort Russ News Sept 19, 2018
Russia appears to be involved in an appropriate and strategically prudent disinformation campaign to avoid any further irreparable damage in Franco-Russian relations. FRN will analyze why it is most probable that France took down the Russian Il-20 military aircraft, and not the SAA air defense systems as first Israeli, and then Russian media have today begun to officially report.
It will be critical of course to establish the key necessities in making the case. Means, motive, and opportunity. Once these are established, we then proceed to establishing that this is the most probable case even as others had one, two, or even all three of these and this will be done in part by countering some of the nevertheless intelligent but imperfect reasoning now being printed regarding possible theories. In general, the pro-Russian media sphere is at this time ‘following up’ on the quite recent Russian official pronouncements that the SAA themselves accidentally shot down the Il-20, even while nominally blaming Israel and naming it ‘responsible’ for the incident.
What the Russians claim is that Israeli craft using the Il-20 for cover ‘confused’ the SAA system and that the SAA system hit the Russian Il-20. We will explain that while this is possible, it is unlikely, and in fact the least likely of any realistic scenarios given the tremendous preparation and planning that goes into these events.
The US wants to further damage Franco-Russian relations. France under multiple governments since 2011, has called for Assad to step down, and has already threatened ‘military action’ against Syria, so relations between these two countries are already ‘ruined’. But relations between France and Syria aren’t critical for peace, stability, and the general project for Eurasian-European integration. However, Franco-Russian relations are very critical, and while it’s been noted previously by experts that the aim of the U.S is to permanently poison EU-RF relations, Russia therefore is the obvious party that has the least interest in escalating tensions or further souring relations with France.
We can see this in any number of cases, but specifically in how they dealt with the Turkish downing of the Russian plane a few years ago over Syrian skies. Their aim was to de-escalate, and ultimately show that the Turkish pilot involved was part of a directly NATO controlled part of the Turkish military that was operating, essentially ‘rogue’ and not under Erdogan’s orders. When the coup attempt happened later, this same Turkish pilot was named in that group of anti-Erdogan coup-plotters. Russia did not use the opportunity to try to further worsen ties with Turkey. In fact, they used the opportunity to eventually strengthen ties with Turkey. This was wise, and most prudent, regardless of what actual facts were in play.
Last night Lattakia was attacked by navy assets off the Syrian coast, as well as Israeli airforce, and Russia appears to be saying it was ‘also’ France insofar as they report that ‘French missile launches were detected’ during the attack. FRN is clear that Russia ‘appears’ to be saying it was France that hit Lattakia, but isn’t saying this conclusively. This point will be explained.
This is an observational approach to information sharing, rather than deductive or conclusive. It also runs the two lines of information together, without necessarily connecting them. Russian official announcements, and Russian state run or synergy media like Sputnik, have all run the story the same way – running the two lines of information together, back to back, without necessarily connecting them causally or deductively. This will be important in untangling what Russia is officially, vs. not officially saying regarding the downing of the Russian Il-20 military aircraft off the coast of Syria and the death of 15 of its crew. The following screen shot with arrows and explanation added by FRN is meant to help prove and illustrate how Russian media is approaching this question.
So we have a Russian plane downed possibly by French Naval ship, or by the SAA air defense forces protecting Lattakia itself. The second proposition is the least credible. So let’s now look at how the story looks specifically about the downed Russian Il-20 military aircraft. Hopefully, in terms of the veracity of FRN’s claims, Sputnik refrains from changing its textual presentation here, so nevertheless we provide screenshots immediately below which will allow us to see two things.
One, that the pattern fits the same as the screen shot above, an event is registered as happening, and the activities of another party are named, but no connection is specifically made. Fact 1 and Fact 2 are divided. The reader is left to make of it what they will.
If this led some readers to ‘mistakenly’ conclude at first that France had something to do with the takedown of the Il-20, they would, by Russian accounts, be ‘officially’ wrong, but most probably right. We can see the same Russian official method of information dissemination is used in the above screenshot, but in fact and indeed, Russia is not specifically ruling out that the registered missile launches had something to do with what hit Lattakia.
At the same time, (and this gets more complicated, but referring to the above map will help,) we propose instead that something else happened. Israeli warplanes hit Lattakia, and perhaps Israeli ground systems were also aimed and hit Lattakia (we have no reports of the latter), and perhaps also French naval vessels’ missiles hit Lattakia, but again this last point is not in fact established by Russian media per se. If Russia later revises or updates this story has events emerge, and diplomatic interactions take a certain or more clear, or more definable direction, then perhaps Russian reportage on this will change, retroactively. But this is where the infowar stood at the time of the events, and through the early afternoon of September 18th, Belgrade time.
Secondly, readers will take note of the inclusion of the French denial. This French denial is bizarre and entirely out of place since no one accused France. Do innocent parties randomly and yet officially deny involvement in things of which they are not formally accused? In most cases, no they do not.
The Russian Defense Ministry has shared a map of the September 17 attack in Syria.
From Sputnik, also:
<<“Israeli Side Is Fully Responsible For Il-20 Crash” – Russian defense minister
“The Russian Defense Ministry has repeatedly called on the Israeli side to refrain from attacks on Syrian territory, which threaten the security of Russian servicemen,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
“Israel is fully responsible for the crash of the Russian Il-20 military aircraft off the coast of Syria and the death of its crew”, Russian Defense Minister Shoigu stated.
It’s highly intelligent on the part of Russia, for many reasons, that they blame Israel for this if the option is France. Russia refuses to countenance steps leading to any war when other means are clear & available.
Arrangements are in place to obviate the possibility of any kind of inadvertent US or NATO strike on a Russian asset. The situation in Latakia was complex and all details clearly have not yet been ascertained. But outright war is no answer whatever emerges ultimately. This was the thought process of Russian authorities, and the basis as well, of their disinfo campaign.
It also makes perfect sense why they couldn’t accuse Israel of actually taking down the plane. They did not, and the physical evidence could never establish that. Those familiar with the ins and outs of the MH-17 case show that a BUK system attack is not commensurate with the physical remains of the MH-17. In that case, it was attacked by another plane, an attack plane. For these reasons, the Atlanticists have not dealt with the physical evidence, which they are in charge of, but which DPR people and independent journalists were, fortunately, able to collect before NATO came in and did clean up.
<<Il-20 Crash Site in Latakia Province is Located>>
“At the moment, the location of the plane’s crash is found 27 kilometers to the west of the village of Banias [Latakia province],” the ministry said.
Russian Defense Ministry Views Provocative Israeli Actions in Syria as Hostile
“We see these provocative actions of Israel as hostile,” Konashenkov said, adding that 15 Russian servicemen were killed as a result of the “irresponsible actions” of Israel’s Defense Forces, which violated “the spirit of the Israeli-Russian partnership.”>>
<<According to the spokesman, the Russian Defense Ministry reserves the right to an “adequate response” following the Israeli attack.>>
Israel has refused comment, and this makes sense. They can’t deny their planes were up there, and Russia has confused the entire FUKUS and Israeli designed script. They have to sit back and think about this one.
See, if Russia’s accepting the Western statements about Syrian friendly fire were predicted, then this would have been obvious by their early availability for comment. This means that something has happened which they need to ‘work through the variables’ to answer to.
The French ‘early denial’ when no accusation was made, means that the West had planned for France to be blamed, the French authorities were prepared to carry out their script and deny the accusations that the Russians were ‘obviously’ going to make.
Then something happened, and Russia didn’t make that accusation. But there were the French authorities, going forward with the script, and in an incoherent way which really exposes what they were up to, and tells us all quite clearly what was planned, and yet all the while Russia doesn’t at all blame France. Ridiculous, brilliant, absurd.
A critical factor here is that the whole event comes just hours after Erdogan and Putin’s meeting for a political solution concerning Idlib, them shortly after France and Israel began a bombardment campaign targeting Lattakia, Homs, Jableh & Tartous and downing a Russian Il-20 with 14 soldiers on board in a clear act of provocation, meant to further cool Franco-Russian relations.
The western MSM was the first to falsely claim that the Syrian air defense system downed the plane while actually 4 Israeli fighters or multi-roles were right above in the air. But when the Russian plane was hit, it was a distant 35 KM off the Syrian coast. Russia is being prudent, for all the reasons explained here, in going along with this narrative – which much surprises the Atlanticists.
<<Kremlin Extremely Concerned About Events that Led to Il-20’s Destruction>>, more from Sputnik.
“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile”
“We consider these provocative actions by Israel as hostile. Fifteen Russian military service members have died because of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military. This is absolutely contrary to the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership”
While Israel is a likely enough suspect in terms of motive and opportunity, it doesn’t have the means – not means that can be established or that were verified to have been used, that is. Claiming it was Israel would require Russia to publicly divulge whether SAMS were used or not to take down the Il-20. But Russia would not be believed (honestly so) if they presented Israel as the attacker, because Israel didn’t use SAMS in that attack, Russia did not register Israeli missile launches. Only French (and, Syrian). And so the US, the Atlanticists, FUKUS and Israel, believed that Russia would blame France.
It was specifically SAMS that were used, not Israeli planes that shot down the IL-20. The data would show that, and if claiming it was Israel, then Russia would be facing a reverse MH-17 scenario, where Russia is in possession both of the launch data and of the plane wreckage, meaning that they aren’t in the position to credibly debunk the Western intelligence and MSM line that it was an ‘accidental friendly fire by the SAA’. Russia would be accused of faking the evidence if they tried to counter the claim, and it would do nothing to promote whatever response they need to make towards Israel, in revising their deconfliction agreement, or ‘partnership’.
With the US claiming that it was a SAM, and Russia having to show it was a French SAM, Russia is in the position of having to blame France and rhetorically defend the SAA. What benefit is there in that? Russia already defends and supports the SAA. The SAA can go along with the lie, it serves the mid-term strategic objectives well, as we’ve explained.
Franco-Russian relations can get worse. It will be hard enough to see an improvement, and this is Moscow’s real desire. But relations can get worse, and exchanging accusations and for Moscow to blame Paris, will see relations get worse. Putin’s mixed support base, given the various short term and long term goals of the RF, and the various pillars of Russian power which all agree that good relations with the two EU pillars – Germany and France – is above almost all else, equal to good relations with China – allows us to understand Russia and Putin’s operating mandate.
While some may counter that Israel and France have been firing cruise missiles at Syrian territory, missiles which are designed to attack ground targets, not take down aircraft, this point hasn’t been established or made public, nor at this point – given that Russia is following the Western MSM and intelligence narrative on this – ought we expect Russia to present anything else.
So functionally speaking, without a full disclosure on the part of the Russians towards the public, this opened up the possibility that Syria, while taking aim at “Israeli” planes may have accidentally missed its target, and then locked on to the Russian plane. By itself, ignoring the geopolitics, likelihood, IFF systems in place etc., this may seem credible enough to some. Unfortunately, it fails to explain the French capacity.
The Russians would have real-time data to the moment the plane was hit. Also, a critical target to defeat a Russian fleet, with that plane out of the air, the information flow is handicapped on the Russian side. The entire caper could have been designed to eliminate that particular plane to see what the Russian side’s ‘plugging the gap’ capabilities are.
So this served a ‘war games’ objective, not only a PR-diplomacy-media (failed) objective.
The Russians have not, at least yet, claimed that all that France launched were SSM missiles (surface to surface), everything printed as of publishing time Belgrade, afternoon on the 18th September, indicates only that ‘Russia detected French launch of missiles’.
In fact, the French vessel present, and involved in the attacks, a FREMM called the Auvergne has been equipped with missiles that can target air, by design. These are the Aster missile family, and the Auvergne as a FREMM, multipurpose frigate, is standard equipped this way by the French navy. Again, Russia did not report that it recorded that France had only launched SSM missiles.
But why would Israel or France bother shooting down a Russian plane when they were already getting away with bombing Syria, without being hindered by Russia?
This is a good question, but not difficult to answer. For the reasons explained above, Russia is not Syria. Franco-Russian relations are not now, (and because of this ‘disinformation campaign’ by Russia, following the Atlanticist lead,) irreparably damaged in the mid-term.
The aim of the Atlanticists is to have France do it, have France be blamed, and to cause a massive public relations problem, that Putin would have to respond to, by naming, blaming, the French, and seeking to hold them accountable. How will the French and Russian publics, respectively, take this? Not well, and it doesn’t work well for the Eurasia project either. Macron will eventually be out, and it’s politically near-impossible to hold the leader of a country, although temporary, responsible without blaming a whole people for something. Once you throw in the work of French media spin-doctors, they will absolutely succeed in twisting it not as a Macron problem but a problem that Russia has with blaming France and all the French by extension.
The IFF system, and the situation in Syria is not at all like the situation in the Georgian war ten years ago, when at the time there were some official Russian reports of there being difficulties separating Georgian from Russian aircraft. This is because MiGs are identical to MiGs. IFF systems at the time are not the same as today, with integrated transponders which make auto-locking impossible from the start. The Syrian Army at Lattakia does not, in reality, operate as a separate army. There, they have what is known as an integrated command, at least insofar as these issues are concerned. So the SAA couldn’t have attacked or locked onto a Russian plane, because the transponder data in real time that is part of newer IFF systems actually would mean there would have to be an intentional manual override over the computerised ‘no-lock possible’ response the S-200’s computer system would have automatically generated for a Russian plane of any kind.
The S-200 has an extremely high accuracy, not more than a bit different from the S-400 for a single target, and specifically a target of this size and speed, it would have had to ‘miss’ the Israeli plane in question, which only has a 10-15% chance of doing, but then proceed to then actually hit the Russian plane. But not only hit the Russian plane but critically so. This is all we can ascertain once we realize that auto-locking without manual override onto the Russian plane with the IFF transponder in direct connection with the SAA (Russian joint command) at Lattakia, is practically impossible unless we say there was an American asset working at the controls of the SAA’s Lattakia computer.
But instead of reality and instead of either reality painted above, Russia accuses the Israeli fighter jet of using the Russian plane as a screen (flying in super close proximity) to draw the missile to the Russian plane. If so, that raises a whole new issue; where were the Russian interceptors? It’s not like they’d not have had time to assess and take action, other than the S-300 system, Russian fighter escorts should have had time to scramble to meet the Russian plane in case of Israeli jets flying up the coast where it should have been obvious there was a Russian Il-20 headed into the same area. On top of that, why wouldn’t the Russian plane have been rerouted?
The Putin-Erdogan deal reached yesterday indeed offers the strong probability for Syria to win without engaging in a needless conflict, and the promises of FUKUS attacks to be realized. Still, though they were anyhow, for no discernible reason given. Israel and France simply attacked in response to Turkey’s cunning move. So time is on Russia’s side.
That the aim of yesterday’s surprise attack is punishment for the Turkish ‘about face’, which FRN stated as a very likely possible outcome, (for the record), is evident in that stories from RT and Sputnik reporting on the event had official statements, and not randomly so, saying that these attacks will not deter or reverse the Turkish-Russian agreement on the final resolution of Idlib.
What’s needed now for the Atlanticists of FUKUS is to damage these relations as much as possible, Turkey vs. Russia, and Russia vs. France, and to cause Russia to blame France instead of blaming Israel.
This was a calculation, that Russia would not blame Israel due to the successful media hologram that Russia created that Israel has an inviolable special relationship (they do not, to this extent), and that instead that Russia will blame France. They did not expect Russia to accept the Western MSM Atlanticist narrative that the SAA had shot down the Russian plane either.
Between blaming France or Israel, the US expected Russia to blame France. Between blaming Syria or France, the US expected Russia to blame France. Between blaming Syria or Israel, the US expected Israel to be blamed.
They did not expect this hybrid of ‘somewhat’ blaming Israel for doing ‘tricky stuff’ in the air, the motives being hard to prove or qualify.
If Russia was to avoid an MH-17 situation in reverse, they had to think with agility. Russia has the physical evidence, the flight data, and the missile launch data. If they were going to blame France, which was mostly expected, it would have been a UNSC charade, a General Assembly charade, and a media charade with ‘Putin blaming France’ and Russia being accused of having possession of the evidence from which their case is made, and therefore the evidence being dodgy or even manufactured entirely.
The crash remains of the IL-20 are going to absolutely show that it was hit with a missile, any fragments etc. required to establish that, will show that’s an Aster missile, or similar, like the missiles used in the S-200’s. But they aren’t going to show that the impact is consistent with a small missile carried by Israeli planes, or by gun strafing from an attack plane.
This is why Russia could not blame Israel, yet they knew that Israel was involved in attacking Lattakia, and it appears that Russia is also calculating the blaming of Israel in order to do yet something else unexpected.
What that is, remains to be seen. Now Russia has the evidence in line with the western MSM, Atlanticist claims. They are blaming Israel for how the ‘friendly fire’ event took place and can use that to achieve the same defensive mandate as they would if they blamed France.
See, blaming France doesn’t accomplish anything but a souring of relations. All that Russia could effectively do with blaming France, is to use that to justify some change of their policy on Syria, in a way that further strengthens the Russian position in Syria and the position of Syria itself. But they do not need to blame France in order to do this. Blaming Israel for something which doesn’t require much in the way of physical evidence, and is in line with the Western Atlanticists position (friendly fire), though a ‘message jamming’ variation of it (to the extent of derailing the point!), is sheer brilliance.
So what new doctrine Russia will introduce in the Syrian conflict will remain to be seen. Many are hoping for a blanket ‘No Fly Zone’, though how likely this is, is questionable. What is most important is that Russia avoided being lured into a PR and diplomatic catastrophe with France, which is what Atlanticists hoped for and tried to execute.
Does Israel really have a motive?
Israel’s position now in the region is so delicate, and Russia is not trying to ‘win over’ Israel at this point, not even pretending to try as they were before when creating the media-diplomatic hologram which western sources must have also bought into, for them to think that France would be blamed over Israel. Though again, the physical evidence requirement would also lend towards Russia blaming France since, well, France in fact carried out the attack.
Israel requires Russia to help, somehow, balance its interests with those of Iran and Syria. Israel had the least to gain by pushing Russia further away from Israel diplomatically, Israel would have been taking precautions not to hit Russian targets. On the other hand, since it became obvious that Russia would be protecting Syrian interests at the demilitarized zone just east of occupied Golan Heights, maybe Israel doesn’t feel they have that much to lose. Nevertheless, they didn’t shoot down the Russian Il-20. Everything points to France, on multiple levels.