What did Putin know, and when?

Russia is deeply involved in the Syrian tragedy. To stop Assad, you need to stand up to Moscow.

No sooner had the American missiles “Tomogavk” to fly over the Mediterranean sea towards the shayrat airbase in Syria, as had already spread speculation about how the attack will affect the thaw in relations between the US and Russia, which is expected after joining Donald trump in the post. Was it the first sign of the willingness of the new President of America to confront Putin?

Perhaps the most important factor in this equation is Russia. To understand the Kremlin’s response to U.S. strikes on them prior to the chemical attack in Syria, it is important to realize a harsh truth about Russia in Syria.

The US has warned Russian troops about upcoming strikes, because they knew that they are there. We knew the Russians were at the base of a Shirt from November 2015. That is why Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the strike “is on the brink of military clashes with Russia,” we bombed the base from which, as he was known, the Russian troops led operations.

In August 2015, well before the announcement by the Kremlin started a new Syrian campaign — Russia signed a comprehensive military agreement with Assad. This agreement, Moscow has given a virtual carte Blanche in Syria and changed the status of the country for something like the situation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and not a sovereign state, where the Russian troops.

Russian commanders are coordinating military strategy in Syria, and they played a crucial role in changing the course of the war against Assad. Russian forces coordinate all aspects of Syrian aircraft and air strikes. They strengthened the infrastructure base Shirt who allegedly got rid of his stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2013. Without a doubt, in the process of reconstruction of elements of the base they could not know about the presence of chemical munitions.

According to some reports, the intelligence sources confirmed that there were Russian soldiers, when ammunition chemical weapons were loaded in the Syrian fighters. The Russian air force, perhaps, was over a scene during a chemical attack, and Russian drone was watching the hospital, which treated victims of the attack with sarin immediately before the bombing — possibly to destroy evidence of the attack. Bombing hospitals became part of the war strategy in Syria.

All it means is that Russian troops probably knew about the attack with sarin — just like they knew about all of the Syrian barrel bombs and chlorine during the attacks. They were inherently involved in the planning and implementation of the strategy, which was part of these attacks. They are fully integrated in the command hierarchy of the Syrian campaign.

In Ukraine for too long, we played up the Russian puppet theatre “little green men” and “separatist forces”, although it was clear that the front line are the soldiers and equipment from Russia.

Now we must face this truth — and consequences — in Syria. The Syrian army is no more. There are Russian commanders, land forces of Iran and Hezbollah. Russia has much greater technological capabilities, and also has experience with precision-guided munitions. So fill in the blanks. Syria is a Russian war.

Why would Assad or Putin take such a risk with this chemical or any other attack? The Kremlin and its generals understand the usefulness of fear, large-scale demographic engineering and the transformation of migration into a weapon, and also favor destabilization of the region to achieve specific results. Remember: the chaos is often the strategy of the Kremlin.

Russian troops were warned of the impending retaliation. Their air defense system A2AD could protect Shirt from rocket attacks. But this did not happen.

At the time of the officials in the Kremlin were options, but they made their choice. They could shift the responsibility on the Assad regime — to say that they did not know about the attack, condemn it, or at least to say that it should be investigated impartially, etc.

But they didn’t. Instead, the Kremlin wrote stories that Assad is innocent, spread conspiracy theories about the chemical factories of the rebels and “provocations”. In fact, they went even further, the Ministry of foreign Affairs suggested that each chemical attack during the Syrian war was organized to discredit Assad.

So the Kremlin has made its choice. Covering Assad and blaming America, the Russian leaders are no longer able to deny their sins. And we should stop doing it for them.

The truth is that Russia is an accomplice to the use of sarin against civilians in Syria. But the fact that the Kremlin was caught, oddly enough, too good for him. Putin understands that the missile attack trump may be a necessary move, needed him to escape the consequences of their actions.

Now in Moscow aspirations disappear on reboot. The Kremlin is increasingly concerned that trump’s investigation and hindered the anti-Russian sentiment in society, and that their efforts to nurturing a friendly face in the White house will do nothing. This means that they have two choices: force your opponent to work harder for the deal or go back to the history that America is “the main enemy”.

Each option is Putin’s victory, and both were made possible by the blow.

The Kremlin machine the distortion of reality is working at full capacity, spewing outrage and theories about sabotage. The United States bombed Syria, to divert attention from the civilian casualties in Iraq; the attacks were a message to North Korea; trump tried to stop the downgrade; the US supports ISIS; an attack using sarin was a “provocation” designed to force the President trump to abandon his soft stance against the long rule of Assad.

But this time the machine will not be able to drown out the truth. The bombing in Syria had reaffirmed that the United States remains a player in the middle East. It was a demonstration of American power.

But a single bombing one of the bases of Assad is not the United States put in the position of power. Putin physically and ideologically fills the vacuum left by the US during the Obama administration. No policy towards Russia is not Syria or Ukraine, and Russia, and without reaction on Putin, and in order to determine what will happen next, Secretary of state Rex Tillerson is going to Moscow to negotiate from a position of weakness.

As I wrote in January, trump has the tools and capabilities to confront the global imperialist rebellion Putin, including in the middle East if he decides to do it.

Power requires strategy. And it is time for us to develop it in relation to Russia and the many wars that the Kremlin is waging against us and our interests. But it is necessary to ignore the tales of the Kremlin and accept the truth about their actions.