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15 September 2015


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The Twisted Genius


No. OK, the S-300 missile would eventually hit the ground because of gravity, but you'd have to be one unlucky SOB to become a ground casualty of of an S-300 missile.There are plenty of appropriate ground to ground missile and rocket systems.


CP: We live outside a post-industrial town not far from DC. On our way back from vacation this year we had occasion to go through both Manhattan and Chevy Chase. As we drove through the bustle and prosperity of the latter, my significant other said, "No wonder Our Betters don't know there's a depression out there."


Tidewater to William R. Cumming and All,

I see TTG has given the good, brisk, short answer.

I have a couple of points to make, which really amount to questions, about the Russian navy off of Syria.

I think any Russian task force will be accompanied by a submarine. Surely an attack sub. The Russians have begun developing new subs. One is the Yasen-class attack submarine.

"We'll be facing tough potential opponents. One only has to look at the Severodvinsk, Russia's version... of a SSGN. I am so impressed with this ship that I had Carderock build me a model from unclassified data," Rear Adm. Dave Johnson, NAVSEA program executive officer (PEO) said during the Naval Submarine League's symposium in Falls Church, Va., late in 2014..."

"The Yasen-class boats could be armed with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles." [This from The National Interest.]

I think one should assume that the sub in attendance on the surface ships would be able to launch nuclear or conventional cruise missiles. It is protection against an enemy sub, but it is also backup.

Again, from the National Interest "Bullseye: The 5 Most Deadly Anti-ship Missiles of All Time, by Kyle Mizokami. Mizokami begins his article stating that the West stopped developing new antiship missiles after the War on Terror began. But Russia and India did not. The 'Brahmos' is named for the Brahmaputra and Moscow Rivers. It will be a series of missiles, with different capabilities.

"Brahmos is the fastest low-altitude missile in the world. The missile has two stages: the first, consisting of a solid-fuel rocket, accelerates Brahmos to supersonic speeds. The second stage, a liquid-fueled ramjet, accelerates it to Mach 2.8. The missile reportedly flies as low as 10 meters above wavetops, making it what's known as a 'sea skimmer.' It has a range of about 290 kilometers."

When Brahmos attacks a ship that has a radar mounted at 20 meters it will be detected at a range of 27 kilometers. This leaves the defender with 28 seconds to track, illuminate and shoot it down.

I may be wrong about this but I think this article has left something important out. The Brahmos has the capability to attack from very high altitude, and vertically. When it goes high at Mach 2.8 a defender has great difficulty in reaching it with its own missiles, and when it comes down vertically at nearly 3,000 miles per hour its weight alone will take it right through a ship (as happened to Tirpitz), and the shock ought to be overwhelming to structure, pipes, hydraulic lines, electric wiring, electronic systems, air-conditioning (!) ... the works. The Brahmos means there is the possibility of pinpoint accuracy on a strong-point close to a mountain, or a reverse slope defense. I can't help wondering what a few of these would do to a coral atoll like Diego Garcia. You would think they could knock out a desalination system and wreck pipelines for a good distance.

The Russian navy has old ships, by and large, as things stand now. That will change. However, a ship like the Russian Missile Cruiser Moskva, which now can be based out of Limassol, on Cyprus, is 'chock-a-block loaded' (as the Navy says) with weapon systems and can easily do a stint on station, be relieved, make a port visit, replenish from supply ships at Limassol, and go back on station.

Older American ships using the steam-cycle used to be subject to "dropping the load." There was a time when, if a war started, some ten to twenty per cent of US Navy ships wouldn't be able to start up. Perhaps that is not so much of a problem now, with gas turbines, etc. Still, if these old Russian ships are subject to break-downs, having Limassol nearby is quite important.

If the Russian missile cruiser Moskva is part of the fleet off of Syria--and it has been stationed there a few years back-- any opponent would be confronted with a platform that carries the menacing S-300PMU Favorit (SA-N-6 'Grumble' long range surface-to-air missile. (I assume the situation will have changed for the worse when the NATO designation gets to 'Grumpy.')

Moving right along, the P-500 Bazalt is another weapons systems on board the Moskva. From Wikipedia: "The P-500 Bazalt (SS-N-12 'Sandbox') has a 550 km (341.754 miles) range and a payload of 1,000 kg, which allows it to carry a 350 kt ---KILOTON!-- nuclear or a 950 kg (kilogram) semi-armor-piercing high explosive warhead. The P-500 Bazalt uses active radar homing for teminal guidance, and can receive mid-course correction from the Tupolev Tu-95RTs Bear D...." and other Russian warplanes.

"The missiles were intended to be used in salvos; a submarine could launch eight in rapid succession , maintaining control of each through a separate datalink. In flight the group could co-ordinate their actions; one would fly to a higher altitude and use its active radar to search for targets, forwarding this data to other missiles which remained at low altitude. The missiles were programmed so that half of a salvo would head for a carrier target, with the rest dividing between other ships. If the high flying missile was shot down another from the salvo would automatically pop up to takes its place. All of the missiles would switch to active radar for the terminal phase of the attack." (Active radar means onboard radar, I assume. I have heard they also do acrobatics in the last phase. Can go down a smoke stack?)

Everything I have said here could be outdated, overlook more effective systems, or be plain wrong. It doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what surface fleet(s) could soon be carrying. (Rail guns?) As for submarines, as Admiral Johnson said: "The rest of the world's undersea capablility never stands still."



All that techie naval business is without meaning. Nobody with the possible exception of Netanyahu's navy is going to try to obstruct Russian access to Syrian ports. pl



The Russians should be more concerned with what gear (drones?) the ISIS infiltrators are going to buy in the EU and filter back to the combat zone via Turkey, assuming they can't get anything similar via their current channels. I think the more pressing concern for Putin is how these infiltrators will launder their identity amongst the various EU member states and wind up in the Russian Federation with clean EU passports and backgrounds.

Bill Herschel

"And while these forces will probably suffer casualties and could become bogged down in Syria"

Wishful thinking. If Putin knows anything, he knows what it takes to win a war against Islamic extremists. Chechnya II. Russian troops will never engage anyone directly in Syria. But they will take a very active role in supporting troops fighting Isis, or whatever it's called. Cf. Ukraine.

But Jeff White is correct, in a way. Russia wants to keep the U.S. out of Syria. And she knows that the next President (BushII?) would put troops in Syria in the blink of an eye... unless there were Russian troops there already. Yes, there is a clandestine US presence militarily in Ukraine, but that is not the same as Iraq II.

What Putin is trying to do is make it harder for the U.S. to destabilize the entire Middle East. And, frankly, I think his motivation is humanitarian as well as securing his Southern border.



Note the background context about the implications of economic stress, the role of criminality in making any kind of so-called living, as well as 'Omar's' radicalization in prison in this link:

It's worth noting that your Intercept article is evidently written by a Pole; I note that fact, because apparently the (presumably US) McClatchy reporter was not permitted to speak with 'Omar's' father. FWIW, the way that I read the McClatchy report, Putin and the Russians' decision to back Assad is not only rational, but makes a great deal of sense given that they must know a fair bit about who they're dealing with in this mess.

The R2Pers need to spend some time in a dusty, impoverished village in Chechnya, IMVHO. It might jolt them into a more realistic appraisal of what appears to be a grim situation; no doubt they'd be shocked at the lack of deli's, nice restaurants, and laundry services in the Pankisi Gorge.


rotl, some info on the Intercept article's author https://theintercept.com/staff/marcin-mamon/ Given that he "has made a number of documentaries about Chechnya" he must have spent a lot of time there and I would expect he's better connected there than the author of the McClatchy article, which is why he was able to speak to Omar's father.

What I like about the McClatchy article is the focus on poverty as a "cause" of radicalization in addition to religious and political reasons.


Tidewater to Turcopolier, TTG, WRC, Fred, All,

I am afraid I was a little slow getting to the point about the real strength of the Russian Task Force. Given what Putin did stationing those 40 some new missiles in Crimea, right at the beginning of that, I think he will have equipped the flotilla off of Tartus with the best they have. As TTG said, "First things first."

If Putin has given them his best, then a missile cruiser such as Moskva has the capablility to shoot down a plane at 89,000 feet with a missile that travels 6,089 mph, carries a 330 pound warhead, and can engage out to 93 miles. The ship may have in its magazine 64 of these S-300s. I think certain Russian missile cruisers have carried the sea-based model of the S-300 for years. They have upgraded them routinely. Old ship, new missiles. Even the older sea-based model 'Grumble' can reach out 55 miles and engage at 82,000 feet.

I think the S-300 is out there now. If they have a missile cruiser or cruisers as part of the flotilla, and this group is somewhere between Cyprus and the Syrian coast as I write, how could this well-established system not be part of the flotilla's defensive screen and plane guard?

This means that a ship like Moskva or a sister-ship can cover an arc of Syrian coast almost up to Damascus. I need to check a map. I don't know if the Damascus airport is covered. Certainly the whole region around Latakia is covered.

The S-300 is designed to engage cruise missiles at low altitude so it could reasonably be assumed that it can thwart a drone attack, drones being slow. I agree, Fred, that's an interesting possible objective for ISIS. And the possibility of sleeper agents getting new passports etc. is disturbing.

It's some 207 miles from Cyprus to Tel Aviv. The Moskva carries the Bazalt, as I said, and its range is 341.754 miles. The Bazalt nuclear warhead is a 350 kiloton tactical nuclear weapon. I think the cruiser would carry at least 16 of these P-500's. It seems to me that Israel can be fairly well covered by just one Russian missile cruiser.

Again, I would be amazed if there was no sub. (Not I suppose that we will ever know or, at least until one shows up at Limassol.) The sub guarding the surface ships will have nuclear armed cruise missiles and can defend against submarine or surface attack with torpedoes.

Israel has been drawing red lines for years, and attacking Syria and others with impunity. In January and May, 2013, Israel destroyed by air attack advanced anti-aircraft missiles bound for Hezbollah. The May attack took out a shipment of Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles at a Damascus airport. (I am paraphrasing and quoting from Harriet Sherwood in the November 1,2013 'Guardian.')The article was actually about an attack on Russian missiles 'inside a Syrian government stronghold' at Latakia.

Another attack, that I remember, seemed to be aimed at the headquarters of elite Syrian government forces on Mt. Qasioun. There was something weird about these attacks, as if the Israelis were insolently toying with the Syrian chiefs. And gradually weakening the Syrian army in key areas at their leisure.

It did not occur to me that Israel or anyone else would try to blockade the port of Tartus. I do wonder if, after a while, Israel might try to launch an air attack on certain key Syrian assets using stand-off missiles. Even under the Russians' noses.

As the Guardian article said: "Israel has repeatedly warned that it will take military action to stop the movement of advanced weapons."

Well, it would seem to me that Israel can expect there to be a considerable increase in the movement of advanced weapons into areas that just might now have become a 'no fly zone.' Knowing, and fearing, these people, I think they are capable of trying something crazy.


I live in a quarter of my town which was once heavily industrialised. Alas, that is past, and today the quarter is de-industrialised 'with a multicultural flair'.

My janitor is Russian and a treasure. About a third of the quarter is Turkish dominated, with local concentrations. As far as I am concerned that is ok, I get along with the folks, even though their driving and parking behaviour leaves much to be desired. I get to enjoy excellent Kebab and have a very good, friendly Turkish baker who makes great simit. I have good Turkish supermarkets.

There undeniably is a downside to the diversity in my quarter that the folks who enthuse fuslomely over all things foreign and exotic prefer to ignore, and and that is in part poverty - the quarter isn't gentrified yet, so rents are cheap, attracting cheap renters - students, young families (who tend to move on), foreigners and of course the bottom feeders - there's alcies, junkies and some able bodied Turkish men obviously not working (or rather, working in the handshake business) hanging out on the street, with the Turks preferring Turkish cafes and gambling dens. It's a marvel to me, and probably to the tax office as well, how a twen apparently spending his time weightlifting can afford a 80k Euro car. Curious!

Elsewhere, there are quarters which this is homogenic, or where you have for instance extended Islamist clans settling in concentration, as in places in Solingen. These places become distinctly unpleasant bordering to hostile, and you can be sure that the diversity folks only get there should they get lost.

Twenty years ago I, a hapless tourist, once got lost in London's east end and had to pass by a mosque three times. The third time I went by was getting so much attention that I abandoned my endeavour and rather went elsewhere. It was just not worth it. Back then I went to Glasgow also, and was tensely informed by my scottish host that we would keep the doors locked and that we wouldn't stop at red lights. We're nowhere near there here to the best of my knowledge.

Still, that is of course the paranoids' reference point.

For some more contrast, my cousin's hubby is a McKinsey type, with a postgrad stint - achieved through hard work - at Harvard or Yale (can't quite recall what shade of ivy he is). He couldn't be further away from all of this. For him anyone who, to paraphrase him, didn't make his first million by 40 is a loser (i.e. I could make it, so everybody else can, and if he doesn't that's his failing), which happens to include most of the extended family on his wife's side. They now live in Houston in a gated community though he probably spends more time every year in planes or hotels.

I may do him injustice, but my impression is that his nationality is dollar. I gather he would get along well with critters like the neocons or Russia's cheese deprived liberal elite.

Where's my Roquefort, where's my Stilton?! Damn you Putin, damn you!


the Moskwa, formerly Slava, is of the old Slava class and the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet. The (SA-N-6 Grumble) is the sea based version of the S-300PMU Favorit.

The Slava class carries 64 of those. Once they are gone, they will need to be replenished. It is a credible air defence system, but probably could be overwhelmed if a serious effort was launched.

It's anti ship suite is formidable however, the missiles were built as carrier killers and in terms of warhead size, speed and range there is no equivalent in the West.


It clearly is a potent obstacle. It is also only part of a 'two ship fleet'.

alba etie

And the 'sock puppets " at the CNN GOP debate all last night except for Sen Rand Paul advocated for a confrontation with Russia over its support for Assad. Of course Ms Clinton also sounds very R2P ish in her recent speech regarding removing Assad . I still believe President Obama sent the request for the AUMF for Syria to the CongressCritters knowing full well that it would not be granted . Now whether the Lavarov off ramp for removing the CW was by design or not it was still a good outcome .
The only GOP candidate I could support is Senator Rand Paul . A President Trump scares the beejezus out of me ..


Tidewater to confusedponderer,

First, thank you for your sketch of life in your neighborhood. It makes me note how much life has changed in the places I have known over the years in Virginia and South Carolina. Not for the worse, either.

Charlottesville is a prospering little ville. I've been in Germany off and on over the years, and last visit in 2006 things there looked really good. Of course, you have to learn how to discard all dignity and run like hell to make your connections between trains on the Intercity!

As for the Russian ships off of Tartus, I had assumed a few more. I assume that could change. I expect, as I said, that Putin will deploy the most modern weapons systems, land and sea, in the Eastern Mediterranean. This could include Brahmos.

I continue to think, as most folks here at SST seem to think, that Putin has made a good move. (I have always thought that Russia has an older and stronger claim to the Crimea than the US has to 'Alta' Mexico, I mean the San Diego region of Southern California that is above 'Baja.') I assume both are moot points though the Spanish borderlands are being reclaimed.

Since nobody here wants conscription I am all for the Great Wall of Trump to be installed by someone like a President Mark Warner.

I expect Russia to establish new naval bases in the Mediterranean, one possibly in Egypt, and I expect the Russian Syrian intervention to go on for a long time.

Europe has to back away from neocon NATO and get right with Russia. 'Bye 'bye Angela.

I think there is going to be trouble between the British and Spanish governments over Gibraltar.

Things are changing in East Africa. That the Chinese are putting ten thousand troops in their new port and, I presume , navy base, at Obock across the Gulf of Tadjoura from Djibouti is another sign of big things underway. Assuming that is not just a rumour. That there are going to be thousands of Chinese workers in Obock is a certainty.

I assume the Netanyahoo visit to Moscow will include discussions about 'red lines.'


Michael, if I may, I am pleased you have relegated Obama to number 8. ;) On the other hand I would have missed him in the larger context.


" except for Sen Rand Paul advocated for a confrontation with Russia over its support for Assad. "

confrontation or consultation?



IMO except for Rand Paul they were all mouthing a demand for confrontation. pl


they say a third of the country of turkey's population is Kurdish. Previously, they were called "mountain turks" and forbidden to speak their native language. Is it true that most of the Turks in Deutschland are these "mountain turks" or Kurds?


True, but remember that Trump was against the Iraq war. he's for women's rights and progressive taxation- all tea party anathema. the man who authored "the art of the deal" may strike a deal with Russia. He's a blowhard but he is a shrewd pragmatist. he might surprise all of us.



No. Intimidation, seduction, sub rosa bribery, those are his negotiating tools. He will try that with Putin, for example, and we will lose our a-s. Trump does not know how to deal with people who play for power, and the balance of power not money. And, he is a phony paper lion. Look at the phony outthrust jaw. Play acting.pl


Indeed, the McClatchy article is the first time that I recall hearing about the shift from Sufism to the more radical Wahabism in Chechnya. Perhaps if I had more time to follow these things, I'd have stumbled on that earlier, but this was my epiphany.

For a religion with no hierarchical structure, in a remote location, the imam moving from Sufism to Wahabism would have little institutional pushback.
Putin's actions suggests that his grasp of this far exceeds the US comprehension.
(Assuming that i'm reading correctly, which is always a questionable proposition.)

alba etie

Sen Paul stated that we should not intervene in Syria , cited the failed state examples of Iraq & Libya. All of the candidates besides Paul wanted to bait the Russian Bear in Syria .


Thanks, alba etie, I already saw pat's response below.

I am not sure if I can consider "a Paul" as interesting, solely on the fact of anti-Russian bear baiting, if that also means Us isolationism. But I'll check, if can find a video of the debate.

Usually I get interested in U.S presidential debates much later, and apparently my present focus has changed to Europe. As a result incidentally of a comment by Michael Brenner and/or an interest in someone who he considers a friend but who to me so far remains an enigma apart from his apparent self-promoting feature. I guess that's what a future American president needs too.

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