Wednesday, November 25, 2015

So... is Russia going to do anything to or about Turkey?


I doubt it, save for, perhaps, a few local retaliatory air strikes/missile attacks. 


His options are extremely limited as are his abilities.  The Russian Bear has NEVER been all that.  He may make noise and fire a few missiles...

But war?


A huge part of Russian (Soviet) war-making ability was bluff.

They made everyone believe they were all that powerful... and they do have a nuclear capability to be sure.

But will Putin expend his relatively small military in a land war against Turkey?

Likely about as much as we would if Russia shot down one of our F-16's.

I heard some numbers floating around the ether-sphere yesterday that gave a shocking view of how weak, for example, the Russian air arm actually is.

Their air force has a total of 176 bombers.

Around 800 fighters.  Around 550 fighter-bombers. 

Russian Navy strength is at about 75 combat aircraft, not including around 50 with an anti-submarine mission.


They have a single carrier.


NATO/Euro forces have roughly 6000 combat aircraft.  Multiple carriers.

Turkey alone has around 2600 Main Battle Tanks active... Russia, around 800.  Vlad also maintains over 21,000 obsolete or out of date main battle tanks in storage but they're not going to realistically have the troops trained to operate them... or the ability to reactivate and then move them to the region... and how effective can they be against A-10's?

Russia is making a lot of noise.  Some of it is actual attacks; focusing forces in small areas with concentrated attacks in confined regions.  I still do not quite believe that they're as effective as they would want the world to think they are.

Much of it is the impact of press releases by the Russians, who's senior leadership was brought up in the Afghanistan/Soviet era. (79-89)  The Russians couldn't take over Afghanistan.  I find it hard to believe that they could take on Turkey with an even weaker, albeit more modern force unless they went nuclear.

Paper is usually going to be cheaper than bombs.

Part of Putin's "charm" I believe, is his unpredictability and his macho image.  It contrasts well with the clueless, military hating coward in the White House.

But threats and bluster have long been a huge part of the Russian arsenal.  This "Soviet" version of a telenovela simply does not seem to have the horses available to back their play.

Russian military commitments in Georgia and Ukraine weigh on them.  The Ukrainians particularly would love to see Russians forced to weaken their presence in their country to meet new commitments elsewhere.

It is part and parcel of why Obama's efforts to weaken the US military in the middle of these day's strategic and military challenges are criminally inept at best.

While he weakens our military, the threats around us are expanding their capabilities as fast as they can.  But in this instance, Putin has to use the military he has.... and that ain't all that.

But every day Russia fails to react militarily makes it less likely they ever, overtly, will.

Turkey is not helpless here.   Their defensive posture is likely at maximum.

Russia may come at them, depending on how psychotic Putin gets, but Turkey's strategic position and control of local waterways... the Bosporus - Dardanelles entrance to the Black Sea from the Aegean Sea, for example, make it likely that Putin will have other fish to fry before he loses his mind over the loss of a fighter and the destruction, by rebels, of a Russian helicopter sent to rescue pilots.

He has some close version of these same numbers and these same strategic limitations on paper in front of him.

If wishes were fishes...

There's a lot more going on here than meets the eye.  But he can't grow planes and trained, modern armor... or the troops to operate it... out of the ground.  And he will be hard-pressed to severely damage Turkey without it... and the means to get that armor into the area in a timely fashion.

Most of what we've seen here is bluster.  Russian will be hard-pressed to continue to support the Syrian effort with a pissed off Turkey on Syria's northern border.

In the end, I expect a lot of talk.  But there is precious little action available for logistical and strategic reasons.

It's in Putin's best interests to find some other way and some other place to engage in some pay-back.  Meanwhile, he's got a war to run in Syria and the adjacent areas where he gets to do what he loves to do best: killing jihadi muslims.

And Turkey,while a distraction, likely won't rise to the level of a refocusing of his efforts from what he's started.  Turkey is fly-paper.  Turkey is a NATO country and Vlad does not know what NATO will do.

Busting a cap in Turkey is far too much of both a distraction and a gamble.  And as a result, I expect Vlad to stick with the sure thing and stay away from direct confrontation with the Turks.

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