The international conflict around Syria is gathering pace. All official statements that the world could hear from Putin and Obama during their meeting within the scope of the G20 summit were absolutely uninformative. Meanwhile, anonymous sources add more fuel to the fire of the crisis against the background of the ongoing clashes in Syria. The goal of all that is to make Russia look like an aggressor. Strangely enough, the Russian authorities do not tend to explain or comment anything.
In the meantime, the unspoken standoff between Moscow and Washington may evolve into an open stage. A group of US senators demanded the Pentagon should terminate the contract with Russia's defense export giant Rosoboronexport. According to US officials, the Russian company sent a batch of "flying tanks" (Mi-25 choppers) to Syria. Moreover, they want to introduce sanctions against Rosoboronexport. It is quite possible that American banks will not be allowed to serve the accounts of Russian arms makers.
The story about the delivery of Russian helicopters to Syria was based on raw information. The ball stated rolling when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Moscow of arming Bashar Assad's regime. US officials added a bit later that Clinton was talking about the old combat helicopters, which Syria obtained during the Soviet times. However, they added, the choppers had recently received technical servicing in Russia. To put it in a nutshell, it goes about the execution of an old contract. This is what Russian officials said too. According to them, Russia executes its contractual obligations with Syria.
It is worthy of note that US officials later said that no one in the USA was going to come into conflicts with Russian arms makers. However, the conflict remains unsolved. The fate of both the Russian helicopters and the Alaid vessel that was transporting them is still unclear. Russia may therefore take countermeasures in response to any provocation.
The head of the Center for the Analysis of International Arms Trade, Igor Korotchenko, said that the rumors about Mi-25 helicopters on board the above-mentioned vessel were created for the political game around the Syrian conflict. The powers that either want to change Russia's stance on Syria or undermine the international conference on the Syrian problem may use those rumors to achieve their goals, the expert said.
For the time being, there is no true information about the cargo on board the Alaid. Rosoboronexport officials told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper that they did not comment the movement of their cargoes. FEMCO - the company that owns the vessel - and the Russian Foreign Ministry have not given any comments either.
According to Korotchenko, the decision to stop the Alaid near Britain was illegal. "If military hardware is being shipped to the country that does not stay under the sanctions of the UN Security Council, then any actions taken against such vessel are illegal. It is only a decision of the UN Security Council that can serve the only legitimate factor for Russia not to deliver arms to this or that country," the expert said.
Many Western and Arab media outlets say that Russia is prepared to provide military assistance to Assad's regime. Such reports appear in Western and Arab publications nearly every day. As a matter of fact, this information is not true to fact - this is pure fiction, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta wrote. Moscow would be accused of sending state-of-the-art combat helicopters to Damascus or deploying large warships near the Syrian coast. The information attacks against Moscow still continue, the newspaper said, and referred to another example. Russia, China and Iran supposedly intend to conduct large-scale military drills in Syrian waters. The news first appeared in pro-Western Arab mass media with references to anonymous sources.
Arranging large international drills is the last thing that Assad's troops need right now. Furthermore, it would be highly unthoughtful of Russia and China to send troops to the region that is fully engulfed in a civil war. To crown it all, Russia and China are vehemently opposed to the military solution of the Syrian conflict. Does the West want to extend its "axis of evil?"
Strangely enough, Russia does not show much reaction to such provocative reports. An official response appeared only after the rumors about the drills and a large warship of Russia's Baltic Fleet that was supposedly sent to Syria. Russian officials rejected the information and acknowledged the fact of the information war that was being waged against Russia.
As for the rest, Russia prefers to keep silence. "Western TV companies and newspapers, especially their Arab colleagues, keep making reports about aggressive plans of the Russians. The silence of Russia's Defense Ministry in particular and of the country's administration in general is unacceptable. It is not clear why the Russian authorities want to keep their mouths shut as if the country has no official and clear position about the fate of the Russian people in Tartus and other Syrian cities. Doesn't Russia have certain plans to protect its national interests in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East?
Russian President Vladimir Putin is confident that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority directly threatens Russia's security