The Russian Navy has been actively exploiting strategic space of the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. After having built-up presence of the Russian warships in the port of Tartus, Syria, the Russians passed to operations in close vicinity to the coasts of France and Italy. According to the Western media, a Russian submarine appeared close to waters of the French naval port Toulon.
Algeria allowed the Russian vessels (including submarines, according to confidential sources) to use its base Mers el-Kébir as a stronghold. The Chinese fleet, Russia's ally on the Far Eastern sea stage, also deployed its contingent in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean.
France tried to provide some response, sending its Dupuy de Lome reconnaissance ship at the order of the Defence Minister Le Drian to the coast of Abkhazia in the Black Sea. 100m-long ship is designed to carry out radar intelligence in the interests of France and the NATO. Richard Labévière, Chief Editor of the Geostrategic Observatory, former chief editor of the Radio France internationale, graduate of the Military Academy, told Pravda.Ru about prospects of fleets' opposition in the Mediterranean and the Syrian events.
You stated in your latest article that the Mediterranean, at least its eastern part, turns into a Russia-China zone. How would you comment on it?
Since March 2011, i.e. beginning of the operation in Syria, the westerners have chosen a following scenario: they've decided to destroy Syria, as they did it with Iraq. The US authorities wanted to turn Asia into a region subject to the US, which presupposes obligatory dismemberment of Syria. The case is about a stake, which was placed on the Salafist and Jihadist movements under the aegis of the NATO. The US itself, its European partners, Israel, countries of the Persian Gulf, starting from Saudi Arabia, have participated in this operation.
But Syria withstood, although the war was waged in Libya first, and oversea mercenaries from the Middle East, Caucasus, Chechnya, out of the Uyghurs and the French, from the Maghreb Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia started arriving. That is in 2012-2013 all of this Jihadist army started penetrating the Syrian borders in order to annihilate it, the dethrone Bashar al-Assad. But Syria managed to cope with it.
Thus, the situation degenerated into a regional civil war. There was an alternative to split Syria into small emirates, populated with Shia, Sunni, various belligerent elements and so on. Russia in its turn for the sake of its partnership decided to defend national unity of Syria. A year ago, President Putin speaking at the UN Assembly called on everything to create a single front against the ISIS, but the Americans wished to stake on another plan - collapse and annihilation of Syria.
It led to the current situation. Russia managed to insist and Assad withstood. Then Russia tried to consolidate its naval stance on the base in Tartus, where yet another port for the Chinese will be established in October 2016. As it turns out, not only the Russian fleet operates in the Black Sea, but also the Chinese one across the Suez Canal has entered the Mediterranean and is building a base next to Tartus.
So, the Mediterranean is no more a western sea. At least its western part is not under total control of the US, British, French fleets due to the Suez Canal, as well as the Gibraltar, because now the Russian and Chinese partners got also involved. And that is affair of the US and Britain which led to current state of affairs, to deterioration of the terror threat.
The Mediterranean is in the centre of a huge, multifaceted geostrategic game around Syria. That is the Mediterranean is an epicentre of the crisis, eye of a cyclone. And it turns out that Russians who govern the Syrian Crisis also cope with their own crisis at the Ukrainian border, in Donbass, in the Baltics. Everything is interconnected though. Governance of the Syrian crisis concerns much more extensive geostrategic context.
German Die Welt claimed that due to Syria, Russia turned back its status of a global superpower. Do you agree with this stance?
On 3 September 2013 Washington and Paris decided to start bombing Syria. Unexpectedly, missiles were launched from one of the NATO's bases in Italy, which were intercepted by a Russian radar and downed by the Russian destroyer. The missiles belonged to anti-aircraft warfare - missiles against missiles. They were launched to check and uncover radar defence of the Syrian territory. According to data of the military intelligence, the aim was to detect radars in the territory of Syria. And the Russian navy managed to intercept those missiles.
The Syrian bases were not uncovered, at the same time the Russians prove their power, having put the shield. So, due to this crisis, the Russian General Staff made use of the situation in order to explain that they're aware of the plans, of the French, US General Staffs in particular - to attack the Syrian territory.
That is Russia warned the westerners, showing that it will oppose the NATO at this front and won't allow it to carry out the seizure.
And it seems that after this exchange of polite courtesy between the US and Russian General Staffs, diplomatic agreements were worked out. So, that crisis of downed missiles led to the start of search of settlement at the time and allowed to escape new escalation and a big war with a wide front from the side of NATO against Syria.
This Russian opposition has restored balance against the US monopoly at sea and in the air for the first time ever. The Syrian crisis allowed to balance and explain the Americans in terms of force that every day is not Sunday and that alike may happen in Ukraine as well. It was discussed at the NATO summit in Warsaw. NATO felt offended and concluded as a result that it's necessary to deploy bases along the Russian border.
Interview conducted by Alexandre Artamonov
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Some people are even concerned that China may misread the AUKUS as F**KUS