Sunday, December 25, 2016

On The TU-154 Lost near Sochi

The probability that the Russian TU-154 was brought down by a man-made explosion, that's by a terror action, is quite high (right after a stopover in Sochi and the plane fell just 1.5 km off the shore). And if so then the terrorists or special forces involved knew what plane and whom precisely they were targeting. In other words, if this was a terrorist attack, it would mean and require a professional intelligence operation with access to info from Russian's Ministry of Defense. The very likely terrorists—if this was a terror attack—must have known both the plan and the real time information about the plane's flight, its schedule, route, and stopovers. The security of the flight did most likely require its special protection, which, to repeat again if this was a terror attack, would have been breached. In this case, the attack would have required intel, several teams, and very effective communication.
So far the handling of the tragedy of TU-154 near Sochi follows the script of the Russian tourist charter plane over Sinai. At first the pilot is blamed (neither fair nor respectful of the crew) and almost immediately the plane is derided as being poorly maintained, which, in this case, is also insensible before any debris, not to mention any black box, has been retrieved, and no technical investigation has even started. On the other hand, there is at least one video that shows what appears like an explosion at the time the plane was lost in the very same location. As in the case of the terror attack on the Russian plane over Sinai, so here too a terrorist attack does appear as the most pressing and very likely possibility. However, it is this possibility which Moscow again tries to downplay and minimize before anything else. This reminds of the death of Karimov, which happened, but before the Uzbek authorities figured out how to respond and handle it, it was kept as a state secret. In the case of the attack in Sinai, Moscow was very much the last one to call it the terror attack.
Why is that? One of possible reasons is that the Kremlin believes that the immediate downplaying or even negation of a terror attack suits better its objectives in handling the public and public perception. In particular, Moscow has been very anxious over perceived public backlash or critique of its actions in Syria. That's also why the cutting of a head of a small girl by a pro-ISIS radicalized "nanny" in Moscow was framed as a psychiatric breakdown of a deranged person and not as terrorism.
The other apparent reason is that the Kremlin does not have good ways of responding. The Kremlin provided no effective response to the downing of its SU-25 by Turkish Air Force; the temporary ban of Turkish vegetables did not cut it, and Putin's recent suggestion that somehow ISIS was behind the attack and not the Turkish government, which ordered the attack, also leaves a lot to be desired. Similarly, with the attack on the Russian tourist airliner. Russian tourism to Egypt was temporarily curtailed, but the terrorist organization with links to Qatar that is believed to be behind the attack appears to have fallen of the Kremlin's radars just as did the organizers of the massive massacre of the pro-Russian activists in Odessa on May 2, 2014. Except that one year later, the Kremlin chose Qatar as a party to go to in its bid to "privatize" 20% of Rosneft basically back to itself.
Russian comprador oligarchy has clearly its owns set of priorities and protocols with respect to protecting what it values most--its own rule and its image, as the oligarchic system understands it, and, then, in its own very particular ways, the rest.
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On second thought, another strange, admittedly perverse political and psychological pattern emerges:
1. very soon--just few weeks after the Odessa massacre--Putin and the Kremlin officially recognized and approved the regime under Poroshenko, started calling it "partners," "dear partners," "respected partners" and the "best choice/chance of the Ukrainian people."
2. Less than a year passed after the downing of the Russian SU-25 when the Kremlin and its media began calling Erdogan a friend and almost an ally with Putin himself exchanges with Erdogan avowals and gestures of honors and sympathies (Dugin was quick to construct a whole new geopolitical theory around it).
3. Neither did Moscow skip much time or any beat in trying to woo Qatar, offer it weapons and deals--just as generous Moscow became in relation to Turkey with its sweet new gas and nuclear cooperation deals.
4. Here into this pattern--when the Kremlin is trying to teach the Russians how to love its "punishers" or backstabbers--is also the Kremlin's "strategic," politico-psychological move of bringing the "honorary plaque" dedicated to fascist Marshall, invader and occupier Mannerheim right on the wall of the Russian military school in the former Leningrad, which Mannerheim tried to destroy and annihilate. In doing so, the Kremlin tried hard and continues to say (viz very recent statements by Medinsky) that Mannerheim was a "hero" and a "model Russian officer." 

Yesterday or several months ago, those who killed or were killing Russians are being re-branded and served to the Russian people by the Kremlin itself as the Kremlin's esteemed partners or even as friends and allies--without the latter changing their intentions or character in the slightest.

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