April 16, 2018

The Geopolitical Consequences of US Missile Strike on Syria

Conclusions for Ukraine

As forecasted by the analytical center “Borysfen Intel”, despite all Russia's threats and demonstrations of its military capabilities, on the morning of April 14, the United States, the UK and France conducted a missile-bomb strike on B. Assad's chemical weapons sites in Syria. In total, 105 of different types cruise missiles were used, which is almost twice the number of missiles used by the US Navy on the night of April 7, 2017 against the Syrian airbase Shayrat in response to the chemical attack by the government of Syria in the province of Idlib.

At this, as last year, Russia not only refused to strike back at military bases, ships and aircrafts of the United States, which was the main theme of the Russian leadership's threats, but it also refrained from using its air defense weapons against American cruise missiles. Despite the limited scale of the military attack of the United States and its allies in Syria, this fact allows us to draw some conclusions about the true nature of the alignment of world powers.

Firstly, the United States has reaffirmed its role as the world's leading center of power, capable of defending its own interests without regard to other countries, including Russia, supporting B. Assad's regime, and China, which consistently opposes the military solution to the Syrian problem. As for Russia, it has demonstrated its complete inability to claim the role of a “great world power” capable of defining and actually defending “red lines” that must not be violated by its geopolitical rivals.

Secondly, the Putin regime has publicly demonstrated the lack of political will and appropriate resources for a real military confrontation with the United States and its NATO allies, even at a minimal level. In fact, now Russia is only able to conduct so-called “hybrid” wars against its opponents, carefully concealing its participation in order to avoid responsibility for such actions. At this, against the background of a demonstration of military force, it’s applying it only against obviously weaker opponents and in critical situations for them (in particular, as it did against Georgia in August 2008 and Ukraine in February 2014).

Thirdly, Moscow's aggressive and “great-power” rhetoric is only part of its information campaign to mask its incapability of real confronting the West from the position of force, as well as the ineffectiveness of its foreign policy. At this, the Kremlin's actions in the information sphere are increasingly becoming negative in nature and in some cases even look like an up-and-down farce. An example might be the reaction of Russian politicians and the media to the missile strike of the United States and its allies in Syria, which has become a direct challenge to Moscow and a demonstration of open disregard for its interests in the international arena. Thus, the main content of such a reaction was traditional accusing Washington of “violation of international law”, more threats “to take adequate response”, allegation of the “failure” of the US strike as a result of the “destruction by the Syrian air defense systems of most of the missiles (up to 71) as well as announcing the “decisive actions of the Russian Navy” which allegedly blocked the British submarine, which was supposed to be involved in the missile attacks. The flimsiness and falsehood of such allegations is evidenced by the analysis of Syria's air defense forces, which simply do not have physical ability to knock down 71 Tomahawk cruise missiles in one volley, and by satellite images of the effects of missile attacks on B. Assad's chemical weapons sites (were revealed by the US Department of Defense). By the way, this again confirms the purely populist nature of V. Putin's address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on March 1, 2018, including his statements about Russia's having “unique” weapons systems.

Damage assessment of the missile strikes on B. Assad's chemical weapons sites, revealed by the US Department of Defense

Fourthly, the above-mentioned facts have shown Russia's allies that it is also incapable of fulfilling its obligations, including guaranteeing their safety and providing assistance in repulsing the enemy's attack. All that the Russian side managed to do in Syria is to only provide refuge around its bases to the country's government forces, but it did not interfere with the situation in any way. In its turn, this completely discredits the Kremlin's initiatives to create a common defense space within the CSTO. Especially, because apart from joint exercises, the CSTO has never shown itself in practice, in particular, in terms of helping to overcome internal crises in the member states of the Organization (in particular, during the riots in Kyrgyzstan in May–June 2010).


All this is important directly for Ukraine, which, like Syria today, is at the crossroads of the interests of the West and Russia and is the object of the latter's aggression. Thus, the conclusions about the situation regarding the United States and its allies' strikes on B. Assad's chemical weapons sites in Syria confirm that Ukraine has chosen the right course of joining NATO, which alone can guarantee our security, to which the Russian Federation threatens. Today, countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltics ones already have such guarantees, which actually makes Russia's attack impossible because it would mean its direct military confrontation with the United States and NATO.

Besides, a permanent military presence of US and NATO representatives on the territory of Ukraine, creation of conditions for the wide attraction of investments of powerful transnational companies and banks in order to realize the favorable geostrategic position of Ukraine can be a powerful deterrent to Russia's armed aggression. Depending on the specific circumstances, such presence may be in the form of deployment of training missions and military bases and other facilities of the USA and NATO on the territory of Ukraine, systematic joint military exercises in the region, as well as measures to integrate the occupied eastern territories into the constitutional space of Ukraine, the deployment of an international UN mission in the conflict zone in the Donbas with the participation of US and Allied military units.

As shown by Syria, Russia will not resort to a military conflict with the USA and NATO, and this will turn Ukraine not only into a real “European wall” on the eastern borders of the European civilization of democratic countries, but also, in case of successful internal reforms, into a powerful communication geopolitical centre.