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Member since Nov-17-05

My wrap of our Chessgames Challenge: The World vs A Nickel, 2006 against ICCF Grandmaster Arno Nickel is at User: World Team Tribute.


>> Click here to see twinlark's game collections. Full Member

   twinlark has kibitzed 17094 times to chessgames   [more...]
   May-29-15 twinlark chessforum (replies)
twinlark: <visayanbraindoctor> I see that the article about Armenia and Belarus struck the same chord that it did with me. <I believe that if Syria falls, the Russians would not only lose their Tartus Mediterranean base, but also the trust of many of their allies. We can expect an ...
   May-04-15 Wei Yi (replies)
twinlark: Not if he's likely to win glory for China as the next World Champion.
   Apr-22-15 Nigel Short (replies)
twinlark: (continued) More tellingly, the following article (found at ) describes that hardwiring is more about the basic architecture of the brain rather than its conscious or cognitive faculties: <The question about the brain being hardwired lies ...
   Apr-19-15 Bangkok Chess Club Open (2015) (replies)
twinlark: Not quite: That might have been his national rating, but it certainly isn't his FIDE rating.
   Apr-14-15 Biographer Bistro (replies)
twinlark: Thanks. I need to mention I'm changing my bio writing routine. The main change is that I'll cease the monthly updates of ratings and rankings and replace it with information about players' highest ratings and rankings to date. Current info is naturally available at the click of a ...
   Apr-10-15 Natalia Pogonina (replies)
twinlark: <cro777> Thanks again. That manual is a doozy to work out.
   Mar-23-15 Kenneth Rogoff (replies)
twinlark: <al wazir> The important fact was that no Western leader contradicted Yats' take on WWII. As for the rest of my post being tripe, put your money were you mouth is and point out where it's wrong, and stop being so damned precious.
   Mar-08-15 Evgeny Najer (replies)
twinlark: Congratulations to Najer winning (outright!) one of the toughest and most competitive events on the calendar. Extremely well done. Hope he fares better in the World Cup than the last time.
(replies) indicates a reply to the comment.

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 246 OF 246 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: <Boomie>

<<What atrocities?>

The Tatar genocide: "... between 1917 and 1933, half the Crimean Tatar population had been killed, deported or escaped to other countries." Aside from the usual racist reasons, this was probably just the appropriation of desirable land. >

I wish you would stop being disingenuous. I was referring to last year's secession/annexation. No one was killed, least of all Tatars. And did I mention the Tatars were allowed to return? Was Ukraine going to give the Tatars Crimea?

<Frankly, I can't believe you would support such brutal actions.>

I don't. That you imply I support genocide is more than a little insulting.

That I'm living in a land which undertook one of the most blatant and horrendous genocides of peoples whose homeland this was for 70,000 years gives me no peace. I know many people feel the same about the settlement of the Americas. Nation building has always been a bloody, genocidal business and I wish the world would move past it to a global commonwealth of people, where language and culture are celebrated as part of human diversity, and not exterminated as inferior or as a threat.

As a believer in free speech I'll let it pass as I assume you know nothing of my frequently penned opinions on the subject. But unless you are intent on insulting me further, I'll ask you not to bring any more such implications to my forum. Save this sort of stuff for the rough and tumble of the Rogoff page. Reread what I <actually> posted.

<Finally this last insult with yet another occupation. Apparently 500 years is not long enough to create a homeland.>

A non-sequitur. Crimea has been a Russian possession since its annexation from the Ottoman Turk empire by Catherine the Great in 1783. Creating a homeland in Crimea has not been on the agenda for either Russia or Ukraine.

Why are you even talking about a Tatar homeland in Crimea? How does the 2014 secession/annexation affect this one way or the other? Had Russia not taken Crimea back, it would still be under Ukrainian ownership, and I sincerely doubt, in the light of events, that Kiev had been planning to confer Crimea on the Tatars as their "homeland". More likely the Russian fleet - along with most Russians - would have been evicted and the place turned into a NATO outpost.

Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: <visayanbraindoctor>

Not sure which came first. The Russian decision to finally terminate the agreement between it and the US to allow the US to use Russian territory to transit men and materiel to Afghanistan, or the Ukrainian revocation of a number of military agreements with Russia which enabled access by the latter to Transnistria. Or indeed whether there is any direct connection between the two apart from timing.

Transnistria is therefore now under siege, as far as it and Russia are concerned, due to suddenly constrained communication and transportation between it and Russia.

An attack on, or attempted takeover of, Transnistria by either Ukraine or Romania will up the ante considerably in the region, and could provoke an overt Russian response.

I can't help feeling that the region is slouching toward another major European war. Expect frantic diplomatic negotiations between Germany and Russia with Romania and Ukraine as junior participants in the near future.

Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: Australia's 60 Minutes recently ran a piece on MH17 in which they claim to have found the smoking gun to prove Russia was responsible for the downing of MH17. See it here:

Robert Parry from Consortiumnews wrote a scathing rebuttal of the 60 Minutes piece, accusing them of falsifying evidence:

Australian Greg Maybury has weighed in with his own thoughts on the subject, including the significance of the timing of resurrecting a story that has been quiescent for some months:

I'll add that dealt with the "incriminating" video evidence of the Buk transporter a couple of weeks after the aircraft was downed: http://humanrightsinvestigations.or...

And for good measure, here is a link to a short documentary by a Dutch blooger/journalist about the MH17 downing and some political background:

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Boomie> If you are going to discuss Crimea using the loaded term 'land grab', I would suggest that you read all the previous posts above on it by myself and <twinlark>.

Regarding Crimea:

Russians claim that the Christian Orthodox religion came into Russia from Byzantine via Crimea, before the Turkish invasions. Tatars are Turkish, and became part of the Ottoman Empire.

Regarding the Turkic Tatar's claim to Crimea, you might also wish to ask who lived in Crimea before it was conquered by Turkic peoples. The answer is that it was part of Kievan Rus, which was the mother state of both present-day Ukraine and Russia.

Using your own logic of prioritizing who came first, the Tatars themselves were originally foreigners in Crimea, who rose to power when the Golden Horde took it. When the Russians retook Crimea in Catherine the Great's era, you have to consider the following:

1. The Russians of the 18th century most probably saw the conquest of Crimea (and Ukraine) from the Turks as part of their 'gathering of Russian lands'. That is they were retaking what was once their own from Turkish colonizers.

2. Turkish (Tatar) Crimea for a long time was the center of a slave trade. For hundreds of years, Orthodox Christian Slavic tribes in present day Ukraine and south Russia were raided by Turkish slave traders. There are indications that many of the Janissary of the Ottoman Empire were boys taken from present-day Ukraine (and also the Balkans) via Crimea, forcibly converted to Islam, and used as the elite military force of the Ottoman Empire. The girls went to the harems of the Turkish aristocracy. You can just imagine how that rankled the Russian Psyche for hundreds of years.

For the Russians of the 18th century (keep in mind that there were still no Ukrainians then), from their perspective it was probably payback time. They completely drove out the Turks from what is now present-day Ukraine, but not completely in Crimea.

The modern day Ukrainians probably see it that way too. The Russians that drove out the Turks in Ukraine were their ancestors too. At that time, there was no distinction between Russians and Ukrainians; they were one ethno-linguistic people.

If Crimea had remained attached to Kiev, no way would they allow Tatars to gain power once again in Crimea. MSM would be completely silent on the Crimean Tatar issue in that case. IMO the real reason why MSM is stirring up the Crimean Tatar pot is because it's regarded as a bullet in the propaganda campaign against Russia.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <twinlark> Transnistria is another flashpoint. It's totally isolated from Russia. It looks ripe enough for an outright invasion.

What would Russia do if Transnistria got invaded? Would the Russian troops there just withdraw? Or would there be a hot war?

Both Moldova and Ukraine are not members of NATO. So perhaps they would think twice about invading Transnistria by their own. However, they could be made to believe that NATO would support such a move (IMO something like this happened in the Ossetian war; US promised military support to Georgia.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: <visayanbraindoctor>

<What would Russia do if Transnistria got invaded? Would the Russian troops there just withdraw? Or would there be a hot war?>

That is the question. (btw I mistakenly mentioned Romania instead of Moldova in my previous post on the subject of Transdinistra - my bad).

I'm not sure that Russia would stand by and simply allow Moldova's breakaway region to be invaded, and this could indeed cause a hot war. It's not quite the same as Ossetia as it is not contiguous with Russia and therefore accessible by land, but is sandwiched between one very hostile and one semi-hostile country.

Any defence of that territory would be by air, probably paratroop divisions dropped into the territory to boost the existing Russian peacekeeper presence there as the area is clearly inaccessible to naval and ground forces. Attacks against Russian aircraft and airborne divisions would instantly escalate into hot war that could have incalculable consequences for everyone.

Well, almost everyone.

But if some superpower (unnamed) wanted to start a hot war in Europe, Transdinistra serves as the ideal flash point since US/NATO plans in Ukraine have bogged down in a political, economic, and military quagmire and has showed little sign of igniting a regional hot war beyond Donbass.

The Macedonian situation only serves to prevent the passage of the yet unbuilt Turkish Stream into the rest of Europe, probably also punishing the regime there for not supporting sanctions against Russia. Once the western pipeline from the Caspian via Azerbaijan and Turkey, Turkstream may well become redundant, at least until supplies are depleted.

I notice that Norway is now the main gas supplier to Europe, overtaking Gazprom's supplies. I'm unsure to what extent Gazprom's supplies remain crucial to Europe, or will remain crucial to Europe. If the Norway and Azerbaijan pipelines, combine with a pipeline through a subjugated Syria and topped up with US shale oil all come on stream and remain so, then Russian gas may well become irrelevant to Europe in the next decade or so.

This calculus can't have escaped the Russian leadership (or the Chinese!) and is maybe part of Russia seeking markets in the east. It will continue energy and other commerce with Europe as it gradually uncouples its economy from being reliant on the West and as long as the cash keeps rolling in, but sooner or later it will cut this umbilical and focus entirely on the East and the rest of the non-West for its future economic ties.

Still, Russia is likely to be and to remain a junior partner to China and its ambitions for a New Silk Road which is becoming global in scope. So I guess, Russia's future is largely contingent upon the success of China in expanding its sphere of economic and therefore political and military influence.

Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: <visayanbraindoctor>

I asked a friend in Kharkiv to send me a few media links that might provide some more insight into what is happening in Transnistria. It appears that this situation has been developing for some time, and is clearly a pressure play on Russia with Moldova and Ukraine acting instrumentally.

Here is an informative link (in Russian):

Ukraine has already pulled weaponry into western Odessa near the border.

Russia's only hope of resolving this situation without it becoming a goddawful mess is by diplomacy and pressure on <other> European powers, namely Germany and France, and possibly Romania.

Whether or not the US will allow the EU/Germany to intercede will be worth watching. Or whether the EU will defy the US to pressure Moldova and Ukraine to relieve the blockade. Ukraine may well use this as a bargaining chip for its own objectives like more money and debt forgiveness, and maybe more weapons.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: Some interesting articles on Transnistria

<Transnistria would love to join Russia, but Russia doesn’t welcome that. It wants the not-quite independent territory to stay as it is, causing trouble for Moldova and keeping it out of the EU and NATO.>

<A year ago, the Transnistrian authorities appealed to Russia to include the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic (TMR) in the Russian Federation, “following Crimea’s example,” but the request was turned down by the Kremlin. Now the consequences of Russia's annextion of Crimea are rebounding on Tiraspol.>

<Moldova can't find peace. Forces in the separatist Transnistria region are trying to weaken the already shaky stability in the region. Their main targets: members of pro-democratic NGOs.>

The first article is sympathetic to pro-Russian Transnistrians, trying to figure out the situation they're in. The latter two are quite hostile to Russia, and pro-Russian Transnistrians.

Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: <visayanbraindoctor>

The first one is the most interesting. To leave a sliver of land the size of Ossetia (or slightly smaller than Bohol) semi-adrift for local geo-political leverage and advantage is extremely manipulative, bordering on cynical.

However, I can see their point even if I don't agree with it. I'm not sure if I was a loyal Transnistrian Russian that I would appreciate being used as a pawn like this. Not without adequate protections in any case, assuming I was a true Russian patriot.

The onus is therefore very much on Russia to protect its political and national investment in that sliver.

Given that the only access is by air, and that there are no major airfields for heavy aircraft to land, this could be a problem unless they can come up with creative solutions.

The problem is that as Russian peacekeepers terms are up, they are returned to Russia without replacements being permitted by Ukraine or Moldova. I suspect Russia is probably mulling over supporting Romania's efforts to reabsorb Moldova with Transnistria as a quid pro quo.

Interesting to speculate - from afar - and to see what will transpire.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <The onus is therefore very much on Russia to protect its political and national investment in that sliver.>

Interesting point. I suspect practical and cynical considerations would win out though.

When I read Mein Kampf several years ago, I was surprised to read Hitler being quite unsympathetic to Germans in Italy. He never said so but I suspect it was simply because he was allied with Mussolini at that time.

Going back to Russification policies, it seems to me that the Soviet union did not have a purposeful policy to kill off non-Russian ethnic identities. Centralized policies affected every one, and every ethnic people, including Russians. It's interesting but the outwardly federal system that Lenin insisted on may even seem to have exerted protective effects on the identities of many of the former Russian Empire's oppressed minorities. (I have read of some opinions accusing Lenin of being a closet Anarchist because of his decision to set up an outwardly Federal system in the USSR.)

I believe it was quite different in the Russian Empire beginning in the later 1800s. The Czarist government embarked on an aggressive Russification policy, that was ultimately aimed at eliminating the identities of non-Russians. It was like: to be a good citizen of the Empire, one has to be a good Russian speaker.

I believe that until today, echoes of this policy is remembered in the cultural memories of many of the minority peoples of the former Russian Empire. It may be a reason to some degree why there is much anti-Russian sentiment among many of the former minorities, in particular in the present-day Baltic states, Poland, and Western Ukraine.

Russian has changed, but the cultural baggage of its 19th century Empire IMO still remains. Perhaps present day and future generations of Russians should do something to help assuage the 'karma' of its Imperial past.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: Glad you liked Rosas Pandan. I surfed through you tube videos and it now seems to me that this song is a big hit among foreign choirs. Perhaps the biggest from the Philippines. There are choirs from USA, Canada, China, Korea, Indonesia, Spain, France, Romania, (Sweden?), (Norway?), Russia singing it.

It seems popular with some American college and high school choirs; lots of them in you tube (if you type Rosas Pandan), example,

I found this version particularly fascinating; I think it's a Norwegian group singing in Austria.

It's sounds unbelievable, but most people from Luzon have never heard this (and other Visayan) songs. The reason is straightforward. The Metro Manila national mass media generally refrains from broadcasting non-Tagalog Philippine songs. And the Department of Education does not teach non-Tagalog songs in Philippine schools.,,,,,,

I just discovered the above Zarzuela style Ilonggo Visayan songs in you tube. I never even knew the existence of most of them just a week ago.

Minority peoples of the world often live in an Orwellian 1984 applied to their cultural heritage.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: Below is a link to two songs. The first is an example of a duet conversation type (Ilonggo/hiligaynon) Visayan song. Typically, a man and his lady love talk to each other in song.

Below is a version of the second song in the link above. I am shocked to read the name of the girl singing it. Same family name as my mother's. Must be a cousin or niece of mine. I remember visiting the house of an uncle in that town.,

I am embarrassed that this is the first time I have even heard of these songs. (Well at least my cousin obviously knows it she since sang it.)

Below is a more famous example of the conversational duet song in Sugbuanon Visayan.

Naturally, none of these songs are known outside the regions of their native speakers. The Manila based national mass media and Department of Education do not broadcast or teach them at the national level.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <twinlark: Given that the only access is by air>

'Russia 'to double' size of airborne forces'

'The airborne troops will receive more than 1,500 BMD-4M armoured assault vehicles by 2025 as well as around 2,500 Rakushka armoured transporters. The numerical strength of the unit will increase by a third.'

The Russian leadership probably realizes it may have to keep such options as a military airborne support to such territories as Kaliningrad and frozen conflict zones such as Transnistria and South Ossetia.

Russian airborne troops are being accused by Western sources of infiltrating into Donbass.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Annie K.: <twinlark> hi - are you still using the netspace email address I have for you?
Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: Hi Annie. Yes I am.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Annie K.: k, sent you a note there. :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: Ta. I've responded.
Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: <visayanbraindoctor>

It's an extraordinarily beautiful piece in every incarnation.

The Chinese choir was wonderful, not the least being that wonderful conductor. The Koreans seem to be the most committed, although I wonder why they omitted the descant while the flourish by the Indonesians at the end was an interesting little innovation.

The best descant soprano had to be the Spanish choir. Her voice was ethereal and powerful. Wish the audiovisual quality of that one was clearer though.

It's somewhat ironic the number of Filipinos commenting how wonderful it is to hear that Filipino song being played outside the country...

Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: <visayanbraindoctor>

There's a lot to consider in this article:

What do you make of it?

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <It's somewhat ironic the number of Filipinos commenting how wonderful it is to hear that Filipino song being played outside the country>

Such Visayan songs are generally not much known in Luzon, for reasons I gave above.

<Are Armenia And Belarus Wandering Westward?>

The article carries a worried tone. IMO Armenia and Belarus are doing what any small country in their situation would do, and that is to keep their options open.

On a related note, there is a problem that present-day Russia needs to face. As a learned member of a minority people in a nation-state dominated by a chauvinistic central culture, I am quite aware of how the intelligentsia of such minorities must have felt during the periods of active oppression. From my readings, I do know that the late 19th century Russian Empire aggressively pursued a purposeful Russification policy, based on the promotion of the Russian language, and hence ethnic identity. To the learned citizens of minorities in Russia, that must have come as an appalling and intolerable pain. They saw that their government was intentionally and self righteously trying to exterminate their cultural identities. This was especially true in regions that had a long history of education and a well established intelligentsia, such as Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine, and the Caucasus states.

While it's true that the aggressive Russification policy of the Russian Empire died with it, when it gave way to the USSR, the Russian ethnic people remained as a social majority within its borders. Much of the intelligentsia of the minority peoples may have seen the new situation as a continuation of the Russification policy of the old Empire, in spite of the fact that they actually were allowed more leeway for self rule in a Federal system (as long as it did not conflict with Communist Party policies, as the CP retained its centralized structure working parallel to official state structures and overruling the latter in case of conflict.)

Because of this cultural baggage from the Russian Empire and USSR, one might reasonably assume that any former state from the old USSR and Russian Empire would have a portion of their populations ready to turn hostile to Russians at a moment's notice. Any outside power that wishes to meddle or hurt Russia always has the option to push on these former minorities' cultural feelings of wariness, suspicion, and at times outright hostility to Russia.

Ironically, present-day Russia is not the aggressively colonialist polity it once was. Yet the cultural memories of its former minorities still remain, ready to be exploited by interested outside geopolitical powers.

Above is a possible explanation why former republics of the USSR seem to be so psychologically receptive to moves that are hostile to present-day Russia.

US foreign policy does not move forward in a vacuum. It exploits this 'weak' psychological wound among former republics and satellite states of the USSR. It can't do this if this wound never existed at all. As it is, I believe that all former USSR republics and satellites states are vulnerable to such policy.

How can present-day Russia heal this wound from the past? I am not sure. Perhaps doing what the Chinese are doing, building good economic relationships, might be the easiest and most practical way.

Take another example. The Japanese have built two international airports in Western Visayas, and that goes a long way to assuage images of a conquering colonizer in WW2. If the Russian economy recovers, it might be good if it could embark on similar high profile projects in what Russians see as the near abroad.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: Regarding Belorusia, can't Russia run a gas pipeline through it and into the borders of Poland and Lithuania? Ask Poland and Lithuania if they would be willing middlemen partners in a lucrative business selling gas to the rest of Europe.

Belarus will probably take up the offer.

On the other hand Poland and Lithuania would likely refuse because of foreseeable US pressure. However, the offer by itself might do something to project that Russia is not an enemy, and would be more than willing to do business with them.

Premium Chessgames Member

<'(GLONASS) provides an alternative to Global Positioning System (GPS) and is the second alternative navigational system in operation with global coverage and of comparable precision.'

'Development of GLONASS began in the Soviet Union in 1976. Beginning on 12 October 1982, numerous rocket launches added satellites to the system until the constellation was completed in 1995. After a decline in capacity during the late 1990s, in 2001, under Vladimir Putin's presidency, the restoration of the system was made a top government priority and funding was substantially increased. GLONASS is the most expensive program of the Russian Federal Space Agency, consuming a third of its budget in 2010.'

'As of 2015 it is used in most smartphones.'

'By 2010, GLONASS had achieved 100% coverage of Russia's territory and in October 2011, the full orbital constellation of 24 satellites was restored, enabling full global coverage.'>

Russia is probably using this system for artillery control in Donbass. It would be one of the possible explanations for the devastating accuracy of Novorussian artillery systems.

It's probably also plotting the positions of all planes flying in Ukraine in real time. The Russian military must have a good idea of what really shot down MH17.

Russia is clearly trying to catch up to US military technology. Apart from all the advantages of a global positioning system working for it, the Russian military has recently come up with advanced weaponry systems, which it showcased int the Victory Parade. Some examples are: and

Regarding the capability of airborne troops to be dropped quickly into combat zones in the Russian near abroad, this infantry fighting vehicle seems to be droppable from transport planes, with paratroopers already inside

The following is still in the design phase

<It will probably be able to fly at supersonic speed and carry up to 200 tons of cargo load as tanks and troops. This capacity means that a fully equipped task force can be delivered to any place in the world within hours. Russia plans to build 80 PAK TA planes by 2024.>

It seems that the Russian leadership is keeping options open for a rapid military response in case of trouble in the Russian near abroad.

Premium Chessgames Member

<Belarus and Armenia refused to sign the summit’s declaration because of some terms used in the text, including "Russia’s aggression in Ukraine" and "annexation of Crimea">

Belarus and Armenia IMO still tend to incline toward Russia in the geopolitical game in Europe and Caucasus. However, as small countries caught between two geopolitical powers, they try not to incline too heavily. Keeping options open stems from simple survival instinct and a sensible leadership.

Georgia and Bulgaria should have done it this way too. However, their leadership IMO was not that sensible. I have tried to review how the South Ossetian war started. MSM sources say little or nothing except to depict it as an unwarranted Russian invasion with no details, which is an opinion that does not really say much about any facts. Most Russian and independent sources say the Georgian army began it by killing Russian peacekeeping troops in South Ossetia. Specifically the Georgian army shelled the headquarters of the Russian troops. An outright act of war.

That sounds incredibly stupid to me. IMO the Georgian President then must have been utterly brainwashed to believe that NATO would send in troops to back him up, as even an idiot would know that in a straight out fight, the Georgian military would be no match for the Russians.

Back to Belarus and Armenia, I wonder how they see Russia's performance in the Syrian conflict. They must be seeing that the pro-Russian Syrian government has lost half of its national territory and recently has been losing more. They must be wondering, why is Russia dilly dallying in Syria all the while talking about a 'political solution' while well armed and well funded proxy hostile forces are gobbling up the country. They must be asking: would that be our fate too if we trust Russia too much?

If you look at secular Syrian blogs, you can see the same troubled puzzlement, an even a hint of anger at Russia's perceived betrayal.

I think what Syrians (and pro-Russian countries such as Belarus and Armenia) expect is for Russia to send in covert Russian military personnel along with computerized 'smart' artillery systems patched up to GLONASS for precision control. These would interdict enemy logistics and supply lines in a regular and reliable way, while minimizing Russian boots on the ground and expenses (which could be charged as cash advance rent for the Tartus base). A similar thing IMO has happened in Novorussia, and it seems to have been successful in interdicting the logistics of Kiev's army. Thus advancing salients lost their supply lines and got isolated, and then demolished by the same accurate computerized artillery systems.

I believe that if Syria falls, the Russians would not only lose their Tartus Mediterranean base, but also the trust of many of their allies. We can expect an acceleration for the tendency of small countries now inclined toward Russia to go the other way.

Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: <visayanbraindoctor>

I see that the article about Armenia and Belarus struck the same chord that it did with me.

<I believe that if Syria falls, the Russians would not only lose their Tartus Mediterranean base, but also the trust of many of their allies. We can expect an acceleration for the tendency of small countries now inclined toward Russia to go the other way.>

Indeed. And this places Russia in a situation where they are damned if they do, damned if they don't do something significant to assist its allies in trouble.

Russia has been playing catch up for years, and although it has made some spectacular gains that are comparable in terms of progress with Stalin's industrialisation policies of the 30s (albeit without the death toll), it was always going to be an impossible task to catch up to a predatory hyperpower with planet killing military abilities that will stop at nothing to eliminate rivals. Especially after the wasted Yeltsin years.

Russia cannot help Syria with the m way it has presumably helped the Ukrainian rebels, as Syria is on the other side of the Bosphorus, away from its bases and military support lines. The amount of force being brought to bear against that country is overwhelming.

But if they don't help Syria, then its other allies may well continue to hedge their bets at best, or simply cut their perceived losses and swap sides.

I'm sure the war gamers in the US and Russia also see these scenarios and are planning accordingly. I think Russia has the smarter planners, but is overwhelmed by a material and space disadvantage that may well be impossible to rectify.

Also, all the mega-deals with Turkey (the pipeline), and China are still in the preliminary stages. China is in a position of real leverage over Russia, and will exert that leverage. They may be nominal allies in some respect, but self interest trumps everything else every time.

One of the scenarios I've posted here a few months ago shows Russia being carved up between the West and China.

That is not an impossible scenario.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: I found this interesting article in Wikipedia.

<The most intensive - and less well-known - use of Scud missiles occurred during the civil war in Afghanistan between 1989 and 1992. As compensation for the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, the USSR agreed to deliver sophisticated weapons to the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), among which were large quantities of Scud-Bs, and possibly some Scud-Cs as well>

<between October 1988 and February 1992, with 1,700 to 2,000 Scud launches, Afghanistan saw the greatest concentration of ballistic weapons fired since World War II. After January 1992, the Soviet advisers were withdrawn, reducing the Afghan army's ability to use their ballistic missiles. On 24 April 1992, the mujahideen forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud captured the main Scud stockpile at Afshur. As the communist government collapsed>

If this article is accurate, then the military implications are enormous. These SCUD systems were manned by a relatively few Russian 'advisers'. For three years, without the support of the Russian army, they were able to hold off the well armed and well financed Mujahedin forces. While they were still active, the Afghan government did not fall, and only did after the Russians withdrew even these specialists.

The Wikipedia article belittles these Scuds saying they were not accurate. The above result says otherwise.

These SCUDS must have had computerized guidance systems that calculated distances. The USSR already had a GLANOSS system then, and they may have used this to increase accuracy.

It's pretty certain that by now, Russia has even more advanced and accurate computerized artillery/missile systems. GLANOSS is still around and fully activated. If the Afghan conflict is to be a basis, this could be one way by which Russia could help out her Mediterranean ally, and send the definitive message to her other allies and sympathizers that she would stand by them.

Regarding Syria, Russia may also be in a quandary of how to treat the Syrian Kurds, who are presently led by the YPG. The YPG is identified by all sources as a subsidiary of the PKK.

Both the nationalistic Baath party and Turkey do not want them. Russia might be caught in between considering that it was the old Soviet Union that midwifed the birth of the PKK in the 1980s AFAIK. (As an active KGB officer then, Putin must be more knowledgeable on the details of this, if it's true.)

There could be an element of the Russian leadership today that would like to see an independent Kurdistan ruled by its old ally and god daughter the PKK. Could this be what Putin implies when he talks of a political solution? A Kurdistan in northern Syria controlled by the PKK? (From a Russian perspective, the PKK can be the most trustworthy ally of all, if it's placed in a position of power.) However, such a polity must be anathema to an Arabist nationalistic party like the Baath.

Is it possible that what the Russians are waiting for before going all out to help is a change in the fundamental Arabist nationalism of the Baath party, such that it would promote a 'political solution' that cedes territory to a Syrian Kurdistan?

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