Russia’s formal announcement that a terrorist bomb destroyed the Russian airliner over Sinai kicked off a campaign to find and kill the terrorists and to destroy their base. Since the mainstream media doesn't report much of this, I thought that it would be appropriate to blog about it by way of a "Special Report". Make of it what you will.
The head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) told a high level security meeting today that the 31 October crash of the Russian airliner over Sinai was caused by an improvised explosive device onboard the plane. FSB Director Aleksandr Bortnikov told the meeting, "Tests have been conducted on personal belongings, luggage and debris of the aircraft that crashed in Egypt on the 31st. They have revealed traces of a foreign-made explosive on all the above objects...In our experts' estimates, an improvised explosive device containing the equivalent of up to 1 kg of TNT blew up onboard the plane during the flight. As a result, the aircraft broke into pieces in mid-air; hence the large area that fragments of the fuselage were scattered over."
Russian President Putin chaired the meeting. His senior security team also attended, including Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, Chief of General Staff General Vladimir Gerasimov, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov. After a few seconds of silent contemplation, Putin rose from his chair, with the other participants in the session following suit, and said: "Let us once again remember the victims." President Putin said, "We will find them in any place on the planet and will punish them." He announced $50 million bounty on the perpetrators. He also announced that Russia would step up its airstrikes in Syria.
President Putin said Russia and France would coordinate their operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Working with the French Navy. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Captain First Rank Oleg Krivorog, commander of the missile cruiser Moskva, to work with the French Navy. Putin spoke via video conference during a meeting at the National Defense Control Center in Moscow today.
President Putin: "Oleg Leonidovich, a French naval group led by an aircraft carrier will approach your area of action in the near future. You must establish direct contact with the French and work with them as allies."
Defense Minister Shoygu’s report. "Today, as part of the air operation, the first massive air strike is being carried out on ISIL facilities in Syria. The number of sorties has been doubled, which makes it possible to deliver powerful, accurate strikes against ISIL militants throughout the entire territory of Syria...Along with the operational-tactical aviation operating from the Humaymim airfield (Latakia, Syria), additionally, from Russian territory, Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22MT aircraft of the Long-Range Aviation are involved in the destruction of bandit formations. Today, from 0500 to 0530 Moscow time in the morning, 12 Tu-22 long-range bombers delivered strikes against facilities of the terrorist organization ISIL in the provinces of Raqqa and Dayr az-Zawr. From 0900 to 0940, Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic missile carriers launched 34 air-launched cruise missiles on militant targets in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib...All these strikes are being delivered on pre-reconnoitered targets. In total, in the first 24 hours of the air operation, 127 combat sorties have been planned against 206 facilities of terrorists. At the moment, 82 combat sorties have been carried out, during which 140 facilities of bandit formations have been destroyed. The operation continues. The next massive air attacks will be carried out in accordance with the plan of the air operation that has been submitted to you. There are enough forces and means," Shoygu said.
General Gerasimov’s report. "Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief: Pursuant to your instructions, combat aviation from our armed forces since 30 September has been delivering strikes against the formations of international terrorist organizations on Syrian territory...Over the past 48 days, the Russian air group has flown 2,289 combat sorties and delivered 4,111 missile and bomb strikes against the militants' main infrastructure sites as well as concentrations of military hardware and manpower. During the combat operations, 562 command points, 64 terrorist training camps, 54 weapons and ammunition production plants, and other sites have been destroyed."
Lieutenant General Zhikharev’s report. The commander of Russia's Long-Range Aviation, Lieutenant-General Anatoliy Zhikharev reported to President Putin during the high level security meeting. "Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief, this is the commander of the Long-Range Aviation, Lieutenant-General Zhikharev, reporting. Today, aircraft of the Long-Range Aviation command have begun to deliver strikes on facilities of the terrorist organization ISIL in the territory of Syria...A reinforced squadron of Tu-22M3 long-range bombers, during the last 24 hours, delivered two groups of air strikes on ISIL facilities in the eastern part of Syria, in the provinces of Dayr al-Zawr and Raqqa. One of the strikes was carried out at night-time, the other one is being carried out as we speak...During the air strikes, Tu-22M3 planes each flew 4,510 kilometers in a single sortie that lasted 5 hours and 20 minutes, while Tu-160 and Tu-95MS were airborne for 8 hours and 20 minutes and 9 hours and 30 minutes, respectively. The distance of the flight was 6,566 kilometers. As a result of missile and bomb strikes, seven clusters of militants and equipment, four command posts, five large arms and ammunition depots, and five infrastructure facilities of terrorists have been destroyed.
Russian media reported that the Russian diesel-electric submarine Rostov-na-Donu, on its way from the Northern Fleet to Novorossiysk in the Black Sea, fired Kalibr cruise missiles from the eastern Mediterranean Sea at targets near the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of Islamic State. The launch from the diesel-electric submarine Rostov-na-Donu was the first ever case of firing cruise missiles from a submarine at real enemy targets in the history of the Russian armed forces.
In mid-August, Rostov-na-Danu was practicing diving and missile tests in the Barents Sea. It launched one Kalibr missile at that time. This is a modernized Kilo-class submarine. A Wall Street Journal expert commented that Russia has become the indispensable nation in the war against terrorism. Russia clearly has filled the leadership position. That will continue at least as long as it takes to find and kill the terrorists who destroyed the Russian airliner.
Militarily, Russian operations today are the third time that Russian forces have practiced weapons deliveries that demonstrate new or rebuilt capabilities. The first demonstration was the sustained air operations from Humaymim in Latakia. The second was the long range cruise missile strikes from the Caspian Sea. The third demonstration has included the surge air attack capability using Long Range Aviation assets; the use of bombers for delivering air-launched cruise missiles in the highest number of air strikes to date in a single day; and the submarine-launched cruise missile strike.
The Russians are using the Syrian civil war for live fire training on systems, tactics and operations. (This reminds me of American activities during the First Gulf War/Desert Shield/Saber/Storm.) In the meantime, they also are defending the Ba’athist government in Damascus.
The Russian response is punishment, not retaliation. Russian operations in Chechnya will be the model for Russian actions in Syria.
The legal framework for the Russian punishment of ISIL is the same as if Russia had been attacked by a sovereign state. Without calling the attack an act of war, Russia is responding to the airliner’s destruction as a belligerent. That means that Russia will be less mindful of national sensibilities and the finer modalities of international relations during the hunt for the terrorists.
Note: American operations in it's "ongoing war on ISIL" have been far more tepid/anemic. But given the commander-in-chief, what would you expect?