# Russia
Middle East News
Even Russia can't completely eliminate ISIS from the Syrian desert

Russian media publications reported that Assad's armed forces and his militias could not access deep enough into the Syrian desert after intense encounters with ISIS.

News site "Topwar" reports that Russian fighter jets were carrying out airstrikes at ISIS facilities in the east villages of Hama district, and damaged their communications systems and ammunition warehouses. 

The site added that Assad's forces and the militias could not make progress into the region after ISIS attack close to "Athera" district.

ISIS remains spread out in Syria's Badia, from Eastern A-Swida region through Homs until Al-Mayadeen in the rural region of Deir Al-Zour district.

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# ISIS # Syria # Russia
Global News
Putin did not commit to renew Syria cross-border aid access -U.S. official

GENEVA, June 16 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden did not secure a commitment from his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday to renew a U.N. cross-border aid operation into Syria, a senior administration official said ahead of an expected showdown over the issue at the United Nations Security Council next month.

Washington and several other members of the 15-member Security Council are pushing to expand the cross-border operation, which U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock has described as a "lifeline" for some 3 million Syrians in the country's north.

Russia has questioned the importance of the long-running operation. 

There was "no commitment, but we made clear that this was of significant importance for us if there was going to be any further cooperation on Syria," the U.S. official said following the meeting between Biden and Putin in Geneva.

The U.S. official described the upcoming renewal as a test of whether the United States and Russia could work together.

The U.N. Security Council first authorized a cross-border aid operation by U.N. and nongovernmental organizations into Syria in 2014 at four points. Last year, it reduced that access to one crossing point from Turkey due to opposition from Russia and China over renewing all four.

The mandate for the operation expires on July 10. A resolution to extend council approval needs nine votes in favor and no veto from any of the five permanent members -- Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain.

"For countless Syrians, this is a life-or-death vote," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told U.S. lawmakers earlier on Wednesday.

In the past decade, the council has been divided over how to handle Syria, with Syrian ally Russia and China pitted against Western members. Russia has vetoed 16 resolutions related to Syria and was backed by China for many of those votes.

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# Syria # China # Russia
Politics
Biden-Putin Summit

Caricature by Al Araby of their interpretation of the Russia-US linkup in Geneva. 

# Vladimir Putin # Russia
USA
Biden and Putin Meet in Summit

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin are now meeting for the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland. 

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# World News # US Government # Russia
Diplomacy
Netanyahu in tweet reply to Putin

Thanks to Russian President Vladimir Putin for what he wrote to me:

"I would like to express my appreciation for the cooperation and mutual understanding between us for many years. I appreciate the great work you have put into strengthening relations between the countries in many areas. Your abilities and experience will always be an asset to Israel."

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# Vladimir Putin # Netanyahu # Russia
Global News
A huge explosion at a gas station in Russia

About 30 people were injured as a result of an explosion at a gas station in Novosibirsk, Russia.

Watch video taken from the area!

# Russia
Middle East News
U.S. Senator harshly criticizes Assad's crimes and ally Russia in Syria

The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, has sharply criticized Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad for his crimes against his citizens.

"We are dealing with a mafia state run by an evil authority and its corrupt inner circle," Menendez said. "This is an extraordinary country. We are dealing with a criminal regime, not a democratic government."

He noted that Russia "continues to assist the brutal and criminal Assad regime only to secure its interests and military access to the Mediterranean through which the southern wing of the Europeans can be threatened."

In a speech to the Senate yesterday, the Democratic senator touched on the UN's claim that Russia has committed war crimes in Syria, by launching indiscriminate attacks on civilian centers.

He added: "In just three years, the Syrian Observatory has estimated that Russian military activity in Syria has caused nearly 18,000 casualties, including 8,000 civilians. Let me be clear, these are war crimes and they must be held accountable."

It is worth noting that Menendez's speech comes ahead of the upcoming summit in Geneva, Switzerland, in the middle of the month and will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin with American Joe Biden.

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# Syria # US Government # Russia
Security
Nuclear-Armed Countries are Updating Their Arsenals

Researchers said that the decline in the number of nuclear weapons seen since the early 1990s has slowed, with some indications of an increase.

"It seems that the reduction in nuclear arsenals to which we have become accustomed since the end of the Cold War seems to be waning," said Hans Christensen from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The total number of nuclear weapons among the nine nuclear-armed countries, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea, was 13,080 in early 2021, a slight decrease from 13,400 in the previous year, according to a SIPRI report.

"We see very important nuclear modernization programs all over the world and in all the nuclear states," Christensen added. He also said that nuclear states appear to be raising the "importance they attach to nuclear weapons in their military strategies."

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# US Military # Middle East # Russia # Security
USA
Biden-Putin Relations at a "Low Point"

Putin U.S. President Joe Biden said on Sunday that "autocrat" Vladimir Putin was right to say that relations were at their lowest point in years though he suggested that Russia might be weaker than it seemed and that Moscow had overreached in the Middle East.

After attending a NATO summit on Monday, Biden will meet Putin on June 16 in Geneva.

Biden, who called the former KGB spy a killer in March, cast Russia as engaging in unacceptable behavior on a range of fronts.

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# Vladimir Putin # Joe Biden # US Government # Russia
Global News
Putin says relations with U.S. at lowest point in years

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview with NBC News ahead of his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden next week, said U.S.-Russia relations are at their lowest point in recent years.

"We have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years," Putin said, according to an NBC translation of the interview broadcast on Friday.

Putin and Biden will meet in Geneva on Wednesday.

In the interview, Putin praised former President Donald Trump as "an extraordinary individual, talented individual," and said Biden, as a career politician, was "radically different" from Trump.

 

Asked about Biden calling him a killer in an interview in March, Putin said he had heard dozens of such accusations. "This is not something I worry about in the least," Putin said.

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# Biden Administration # US Government # Russia
Sports
Hunter to Leave Maccabi

Othello Hunter, who plays as a center for Maccabi Tel Aviv, B.C., is on his way out of the club and may sign next season with the russian B.C. UNICS Kazan.

📸 Danny Meron

# Israeli Sports # Russia
Iran
Russia to supply Iran with advanced satellite

Russia is preparing to provide Iran with an advanced satellite that would enable it to track potential military targets across the Middle East, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The plan would deliver a Russian-made Kanopus-V satellite equipped with a high-resolution camera which could be launched from Russia within months, the Post said.

The report was published days before U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva and as Iran and the United States are engaged in indirect talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal designed to put curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions.

The satellite would allow "continuous monitoring of facilities ranging from Persian Gulf oil refineries and Israeli military bases to Iraqi barracks that house U.S. troops," said the paper, which cited three unnamed sources - a current and a former U.S. official and a senior Middle Eastern government official briefed on the sale.

 

While the Kanopus-V is marketed for civilian use, leaders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have made several trips to Russia since 2018 to help negotiate the agreement, the Post said.

Russian experts traveled to Iran this spring to help train crews who would operate the satellite from a newly built facility near Karaj west of Tehran, it added.

The satellite would feature Russian hardware, the Post said, "including a camera with a resolution of 1.2 meters — a significant improvement over Iran’s current capabilities, though still far short of the quality achieved by U.S. spy satellites."

The Revolutionary Guards said in April 2020 that they had successfully launched the country's first military satellite into orbit, prompting then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call for Tehran to be held accountable because he believed the action defied a U.N. Security Council resolution.

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# Iran # Joe Biden # Russia
China and The Middle East
Russia, China veto proposal for humanitarian aid to Syria

An Illustration by SyriaTV explaining what's stopping Syria from rebuilding itself.

# Syria # China # Russia
Middle East analysis
Syria: The Russians pay salaries to sections of the Syrian army in exchange for loyalty to the Kremlin

Colonel (Res.) Pesach Milubani reveals, based on overt publications, Moscow's involvement in the Syrian army's operation. It turns out that even the post of chief of staff is manned by Putin remotely through a joint infantry.

Since the civil war in Syria officially ended, the Syrian army has been under the control of three elements: the Russians, the Iranians and the regime. Sources from the Syrian opposition have accumulated information indicating the degree of Russian control of the army, as reflected in a number of incidents in the past year. Also, we need to follow the regime's efforts to establish the control of the Alawite community in the army alongside the other state institutions, with an emphasis on intelligence and security mechanisms of all kinds.

New appointments at Russia's request

Information recently published on various Syrian opposition websites indicates that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has decided, following his "election victory" in the recent elections, to make personnel changes in the army, which included transfers and new appointments in about 20 senior positions. This is not on the usual and traditional date, when the semi-annual bulletin of new appointments in the army is published on two fixed dates - January 1 and July 1 each year.

According to the information published, the people behind this move are the Russians, who ordered Bashar to make these changes, probably for their own reasons. Whether the officers transferred from their posts are not considered their supporters, and are more inclined to the Iranian side, or because of their insufficient skills in the eyes of the Russians. It should be noted that some of them were appointed to the position only a few months ago.

The changes that have been made include the promotion of the commander of Division 5 to the position of Commander of the 1st Brigade (in the Golan Heights) and the promotion of the Commander of Division 2 Beaches (a new framework in the army) to the headquarters of this corps. Prior to that, he was the commander of the 18th Division as Chief of Staff of the 3rd Brigade (Northern Syria). As a result, other officers were promoted to vacant positions. In addition, a new commander was appointed to Division 8 (a relatively new framework established during the Civil War).

It was reported last March that the Russians refused the Syrians' request in January this year to appoint an officer to the post of chief of staff. This post has not been manned for more than 3 years, since January 2018, and the army is today led by Defense Minister Ali Ayub, who previously served as chief of staff. And three deputy chiefs of staff, as is customary.

According to the information, the Russians claimed to the Syrians that the operations room shared by them and the Syrians, which they set up at the end of 2015 after arriving in Syria, to conduct operational activities in the country, as well as approve appointments to various positions, fulfills the chief of staff.

Because of this, the Russians do not want the appointment of any officer to this senior position, which would interfere with them managing the Syrian army as they see fit, and thus controlling what happens to it. Whoever does not like them, is not one of their supporters or moves aside.

The same thing happened with the Russian involvement in the appointment of the commander of the Syrian Air Force. In October 2020, Assad appointed a new commander of the Air Force to replace the old, retired commander. The veteran commander was loyal not only to the regime, but also to the Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen operating in Syria. These apparently pressured Bashar to return him to his post, which happened a month later, in November 2020.


Wages in exchange for loyalty to the Kremlin

As far as is known, the Russians now control parts of the Syrian army, loyal to them. Particularly prominent is their control of the 5th Brigade, which they established after their arrival in Syria, and the 25th Division for special missions of which it is a part. Its commander, Suhail al-Hassan, is one of their most loyal Syrian officers.

This control is manifested in the almost complete exercise of this corps force by the Russians and not by the Syrian army. Presumably things are done with consent and without opposition from the Syrians. For example, this recruiting force was recently transferred from the northern province of Adlib province to the eastern desert region to deal with Islamic State (ISIS) forces. They have recently discovered activity there, causing casualties for the Syrian army, which is apparently unable to deal with the problem.

However, not everything seems to be going smoothly for the Russians. It was recently reported that they stopped paying salaries to soldiers of one of the brigades in this corps, as its commanders refused to fulfill their order to send forces to the desert area, to fight ISIS. This, after several times they have taken action in recent months. , And matters between the Russian commanders and the brigade commanders will be settled as the Russians will.

It should be noted that in parallel with this activity, Russian investors are making an effort to build a permanent holding for this corps in eastern Syria. They are building a large base in Deir a-Zour that will serve the forces loyal to them and their needs. This, among other things, as a counterweight to the presence of pro-Iranian militias in the region.

 

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# Syria # Russia
USA
Biden begins European visit with a warning for Russia

President Joe Biden began today (Wednesday) his first trip abroad since taking office, by hailing America’s unwavering commitment to the NATO alliance and warning Russia it faced “robust and meaningful” consequences if it engaged in harmful activities.

Biden, speaking to about 1,000 troops and their families at a British air base, said he would deliver a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin when they meet next week after separate summits with NATO, G7 and European leaders.

"We're not seeking conflict with Russia," the Democratic president said at the start of his eight-day visit to Europe. "We want a stable and predictable relationship ... but I've been clear: The United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way if the Russian government engages in harmful activities."

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# United Kingdom # NATO # Vladimir Putin # Joe Biden # Russia
Iranian Deal
Russia Says Few Outstanding Issues Left to Agree for Revival of Iran Deal

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said today that there were few outstanding issues left to resolve in talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal and that there were no longer any insurmountable obstacles left, the RIA news agency reported.

World powers have been negotiating in Vienna with Iran and the United States to revive the 2015 deal.

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# Iran Deal # Iran # Russia
Middle East News
Iraqi military is arming up. Russia has strong muslim competition

Russia is competing with two regional powers in regards to closing massive arms deal with Iraq, who is requesting to improve its military capabilities to deal with security threats. 

A report by "Defense One", specializing in militaries, said that the cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the UAE is making it difficult for Moscow to sell weapons to Baghdad for billions of dollars.

According to the site, Russian media claims that Iraq is planning to purchase S-300, S-400 and fighter jets. Experts say it would challenge Iraq in the process of arms deals with Russia for financial and political reasons.

The site confirms Iraq attempts to find new weapon sources, since Russian systems have been dealt with since Hussain's era. 

After 2003, Iraq was almost exclusively reliant on the US for weapons, after it's invasion, which exposed them to advanced Russian systems such as S-400.

UAE's improving relationship with Iraq is also coming between them and Russia. Last January, Iraqi Defense Minister visited UAE to improve its military cooperation. In March 31st, Saudi Arabia and Iraq agreed to upgrade its cooperation when the Saudi Prince, Salman met with Iraqi PM Mustafa Al Qadmimi and approved their efforts in the fight against terror. 

Iraqi military expert Al Sharifi said "Iraq could improve its military capabilities by making international and regional alliances when it needs to." Al Sharifi added that "Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and other countries in the regional can fulfill a role in Iraq since we don't have the funds to acquire this much weapons." Al Sharifi claimed that their neighbors would allow such support since they are part of the region, so it's for their safety too."

Iraq is going through economic turnmoil as a result of lower gas prices, caused by the pandemic. "Iraq does not have enough money to purchase weapons at this point, maybe if the gas prices go up, Baghdad could consider modernization of the armed navy and artillery, that is currently out of date."

Al Sharifi agreed and added that they should purchase planes and helicopters. He continued "The challenge in Iraq is unusual, and respresented by Guerilla warfare which does not require specific actions by fighter jets. If we needed those operations, the US army could do it."

Iraq is handling pressures from both Russia and the US. Sharifi believes that the US would not oppose any arms deal with other countries, for political balance. It would reduce reliance on US weapons, and would have Chinese and Russian influence instead. This is where Iraq is getting in trourble. 

The Iraqi military expert believes that Baghdad can diversity their sources as they maintain their strategic alliance with the US.

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# UAE # Iraq # Russia
Corona- Update
Russia's Sputnik Light vaccine approved for use in Gaza

Russia's single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine against COVID-19 has been approved for use in Gaza, Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund said today. The RDIF fund is marketing the Russian vaccine abroad.

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# CoronaVirus Vaccines # Russia
China and The Middle East
China's aspirations in Syria

The website "Defense" exposed Israeli concerns regarding Chinese military in Syria, and emphasized that China's intentions in Syria are controversial amongst Middle East experts.

According to 'Syria TV', Israelis are concerned that China is taking advantage of Syria and the US retreat from Syria. 

The Israeli source approved that the Chinese actions are related to China's wider plan for the Middle East. 

A different source said that "It is reasonable to assume that China's main goal is to have military presence in Syria." He mentioned that Washington "is aware of the Chinese plan but won't stop it."

US Military General Kenneth McKenzie stated that the Middle East is being competed over by the large empires. 

According to what was said in Al Jazeera, McKenzie believes that the US is adjusting to the region while Russia and China are looking for a space to take advantage of. McKenzie added that weapon trades are leverage where they can use Moscow and Beijing to expand their influence in Syria and the region. 

Moscow and Beijing sold weapons to Iraq, and Russia has a history of selling air defense systems to neighboring countries, and China has a long term goal to expand its financial power to eventually set up military bases in the region. 

Middle East expert, Mordechai Keidar was quoted saying "The Americans avoid talking about their military presence in Syria, since it has a goal to defend intelligence assets in Syria."

Another Israeli Middle East expert added, "The Russians see themselves as owners of Syria and do not want American presence there."

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# Syria # China # Russia
Diplomacy
Biden, Putin to Meet in June

The U.S. and Russia have announced that Presidents Biden and Putin will meet next month in Switzerland.

📸 Reuters

# Vladimir Putin # Switzerland # Joe Biden # US Government # Russia