Russia, One of the Assad Regime's Strongest Allies, Calls For 'Olympic Truce'

Credit: Russian Post/wikimediaCredit: Russian Post/wikimediaThe Winter Olympics in Sochi are already a bit of a mess and there remain concerns that the site of the games, which is relatively close to Chechnya, could be the target of terrorist attacks.

Carrying on a tradition that goes back to when the Olympics were held in ancient Greece, the Russian foreign ministry has called for a global ceasefire to be implemented for the duration of the games.

In a statement released today, the Russian foreign ministry specifically mentions the civil war in Syria:

First of all, our call is addressed to all sides in the bloody conflict in Syria, which has significantly destabilized the situation in the country and in the region as a whole.

The irony is, of course, that Russia has been one of the Assad regime’s strongest allies and supporters throughout the Syrian civil war.

Credit: Vivek Patankar/wikimediaCredit: Vivek Patankar/wikimediaFrom a The Daily Beast article based on an interview with Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.):

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the U.N.-affiliated group that has conducted inspections so far in 17 Syrian chemical weapons facilities—efforts that contributed to its Nobel Peace Prize win this year—said the Syrian government has “cooperated fully” with inspectors.

But the OPCW and the U.N. have no mandate to stop Russia from continuing to supply Syria with advanced conventional weapons. Rogers said Russia’s continued shipments to Syria have included spare parts and equipment for attack helicopters as well as artillery and other kinds of air defense and anti-tank rockets. The U.S. Congressional Research Service estimated that between 2008 and 2011, Russia made conventional arms transfers to Syria worth $1.7 billion. More recently, Human Rights Watch has assessed that Russian-made thermobaric bombs were used in a government assault on the Syrian city of Raqqa at the end of September. Other Russian weapons Syria has used in the conflict include the T-72 tank, the Grad rocket, and the M240 mortar, according to Human Rights Watch.

More reporting on Russia's military aid to Syria here, here, and here

There is no chance that the violence in Syria is going to stop while the Winter Olympics take place. As the games and the war in Syria go on, keep in mind today’s statement from the Russian foreign ministry. A call for a halt to the violence in Syria is laudable, but it sounds ridiculous coming from a government that has helped the Assad regime wage a devastating war.

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  • Pro Libertate||

    Listen, don't mention the war. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right.

  • Swiss Servator, Befehl!||

    So! It's all forgotten now, and let's hear no more about it. So, that's two egg mayonnaise, a prawn Goebbels, a Hermann Goering, and four Colditz salads.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Will you stop talking about the war?

  • Snark Plissken||

    Montequilla! Burro, that's a how you say? Eeeeh-aaaah.

  • Mr. Soul||

    I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.

  • Aresen||

    Carrying on a tradition that goes back to when the Olympics were held in ancient Greece, the Russian foreign ministry has called for a global ceasefire to be implemented for the duration of the games.

    Is that like the Nixon spokesman who denounced the Vietcong for not honoring the Christmas ceasefire while standing in front of the "Washington Crossing the Delaware" painting?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Look, we won fair and square, so stop complaining. The Revolutionary War, I mean.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Geez, Aresen, they were just Hessians and Washington & Co. only killed about 20 of them and captured the rest.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I almost responded with this instead: "Shut up. We didn't lose Vietnam. It was a tie!"

  • PD Scott||

    In terms of defeating communism, a new outpost in Vietnam.

    There's some cronyism involved:
    "'The first branch in Vietnam’s biggest city will have 350 seats,' said Henry Nguyen, owner of McDonald’s local partner Good Day Hospitality. Nguyen, son-in-law of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung..."

  • Aresen||

    Yeah, couldn't kill 'em with bullets and naplam, now America is going for their coronary arteries.

    ;P

  • Pro Libertate||

    Our second greatest weapon, right after Coca-Cola.

  • Brett L||

    America: We'll kill you in your sleep. On Christmas.

  • Pro Libertate||

    If I'd been Roosevelt, I'd have sent a private letter to Hitler upon the declaration of war against the U.S. and said, "Yeah, we started out killing Germans in their sleep. Sleep tight, Führer."

  • Jon Lester||

    Vile as the Assad regime is, Israel and all non-Sunni Syrians are better off with it than an al-Qaeda caliphate.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Who's still watching the Olympics? Who's still giving a fuck about the Olympics beyond the people who aspire to be in it? Most of the contests are "competition" only the loosest sense of the term. 34 events of swimming, 10 for sailing, 0 for pankration.

    And table tennis is as much a "sport" as air hockey.

    And what about Olympic paintball? It's closer to the spirit of the original games than, oh let's say, Curling.

  • sarcasmic||

    This helped me to fine an appreciation for curling.

  • sarcasmic||

    *find*

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Well-played, sir. And it confir,s my theory that the name "Ekaterina" is only possessed by women who are 7s and higher.

  • Mr. Soul||

    that is a fantastic observation which will make its way into my phraseology.

  • Swiss Servator, Befehl!||

    I leer...um, cheer for curling!

  • Zeb||

    And table tennis is as much a "sport" as air hockey.

    Right. They are both sports.

  • SugarFree||

    Both are more of a sport than figure skating or gymnastics.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I have a cunning plan. Real hockey, but on a massive, human-sized air-hockey rink. Players and pucks all levitating above the rink. Players maybe with jetpacks. No, definitely with jetpacks.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The irony is, of course, that Russia has been one of the Assad regime’s strongest allies and supporters throughout the Syrian civil war."

    Congratulations on completely missing the point again, Feeney.

    If the rebels in Syria stop fighting, then the insurgency ends, right?

    For the rebels to win, they have to keep fighting and overthrow Assad, right?

    For Assad to win, all he has to do is get the rebels to stop fighting.

    So...why would Putin want the rebels to stop fighting his ally, Assad?

    It isn't because Putin doesn't get the irony, Feeney!

    If you don't see why Putin wants the fighting to stop in Syria, it's because you've blinded yourself to what's right in front of your face.

    Has it really never occurred to you that an end to the fighting is exactly what Assad and Putin and Iran want?

    Putin wants the fighting to stop, how ironic?!

    LOL

    This is ridiculous. This is Jane Fonda syndrome. First you become so obsessed with stopping American involvement, that you lose sight of your principles. Next, I guess you start advocating the same things vicious thugs like Ho Chi Minh, Assad, Putin, and Iran want--maybe without even realizing it?

    Hopefully, you pull yourself back before you start posing for pictures on an antiaircraft gun used against Americans with spent casings on the ground--or vouching for the good treatment of tortured prisoners.

    Hopefully.

  • Tonio||

    You angry, bro?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Nah, just pointing out the obvious.

  • sarcasmic||

    Because the Christmas Truce ended WWI.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, well, believe me, neither Assad, nor Putin, nor Iran, nor Hezbollah, want to see a truce fail.

    They all want the fighting in Syria to end. When the fighting ends, that means Assad wins. Anything that stops the fighting is a step in their direction.

    And a cease fire would be a step towards the end of fighting. I'll put it this way, there isn't ever going to be an end to the fighting with Assad staying in power without a ceasefire first.

    But there's very little to worry about here: just some posturing by Putin. This is for press consumption. I don't think there's any danger of the rebels in Syria going into a ceasefire just because Vladamir Putin called for one.

  • Tim||

    The one thing I take away from media coverage of these games is that Russia has yet to master indoor plumbing.

  • Loki||

    Some of the people I worked with at NASA several years ago had gone to Russia for the ISS program. They said that in Star City, in the Russian mission control center there were restrooms that didn't have flushing toilets. You literally had to squat over a hole in the floor. And we were afraid of these people in the cold war?

  • WTF||

    You can thank the insane spending on 'defense' that you don't have crap into a hole in the floor.

  • AlexInCT||

    And we were afraid of these people in the cold war?

    Someone unhampered by the lack of modern technology and creature comforts can be one heck of an enemy to have to vanquish when your side is all pampered and dependant on said comforts....

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    An Olympics ceasefire would be better than jo cease fire at all, but it takes a big ego to link a cease fire proposal with your nationalist Olympics promotion. Or maybe that's the point. And being an ally of one party makes it more likely that you'll get listened to. Maybe Assad is like, "better listen to these guys and not embarass a major ally in front of an international audience by shitting on they're hosting." Olympics the

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    shitting on the Olympics they're hosting.

  • Tonio||

    Is that what "beyong" means?

  • Swiss Servator, Befehl!||

    Zing!

  • Ken Shultz||

    Please see my comment above.

    The reason Assad wants a cease fire is because if the rebels stop fighting, then the revolution is cancelled and Assad wins.

  • sarcasmic||

    Just like the Christmas Truce ended WWI.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Are you saying that Assad doesn't really win when the rebels stop fighting?

    Are you saying that because the Christmas Truce didn't end World War I, that means Assad doesn't really want one?

    If you're saying that a cease fire won't really work right now, yeah, I'm with your there, but then there's no reason to think there's going to be a ceasefire just because Putin called for one either.

  • Rasilio||

    And the downside to this is?

    I mean as bad as Assad is realistically any feasible replacement for him will be as bad or worse so which is worse for the Syrian people, another couple of decades of bloody civil war ending with Assad or someone just like him in charge, or ending the war now with Assad in charge?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Oppression breeds things like religious fanaticism and terrorism. It radicalizes people, and as long as those people remain repressed, they'll continue to breed threats to American security.

    That situation isn't going to change as long as Assad stays in power, so Assad falling, I think, would be a good thing for American security--over the long haul. Anything can happen in the short run.

    Does that mean the United States needs to be involved in Syria?

    Of course not! But just becasue the United States doesn't need to be involved, doesn't mean I have to root for a vicious dictator to win. I hope Assad's head ends up on a pike. I hope the people of Syria get a chance for something better, and that will never happen so long as Assad remains in power.

  • Ken Shultz||

    There are other reasons to want to see Assad's head roll, too. Iran isn't up to their elbows in Syria fighting the rebels because it doesn't matter to them. They see Assad remaining in power as critical to their national security, and I don't see any reason to doubt them.

    Considering that Iran is probably less than a decade away from having ICBMs, by all the estimates I've read, I'd rather see their regime threatened by the Arab Spring becoming a Persian summer than wait to deal with Iran until after they've acquired the means to be a real threat to American security.

    Does that mean the United States needs to get involved? Of course not! The Iranian people threatening to overthrow their own dictators wouldn't necessarily require American involvement.

    But I can still root for the rebels anyway--especially if I think the rebels winning is in America's best interests.

  • Square||

    "The Iranian people threatening to overthrow their own dictators wouldn't necessarily require American involvement."

    In fact, there's significant evidence that their hesitation to overthrow their government has a lot to do with their fear of the US getting involved.

  • ||

    better than jo cease fire at all

    Make circle-jerk, not war!

  • Swiss Servator, Befehl!||

    Didn't JoCease Fire have a platinum album back in....'93?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Don't blame me, it was Pimp Daddy jojo'
    s fault, and he isn't going to like this at all!

  • Tonio||

    While the request sounds all reasonable and peaceable on the surface, Ken is right that this is being proposed because such a cease-fire would benefit those proposing it. The Assad regime could regroup and continue intel and resupply. The Chechens would look bad if they violated the ceasefire. Etc.

  • Swiss Servator, Befehl!||

    In Russia, fire ceases you!

  • Loki||

    "Could you guys stop killing each other for a while so that the rest of the world can get boners watching women's figure skating for the next couple of weeks? Thanks, Russian Foreign Ministry"

  • Ken Shultz||

    There is also some great hockey.

    Those America/Canada games four years ago were fantastic.

    We won the first one...Crosby killed us at the last second in the next?

    And the Russians want credibility. They had that dream line of Ovechkin, Malkin, and Kovalchuk--totally eliminated. Brought their whole conception of the national greatness of hockey into question.

    The Europeans imagine that the reason North Americans do so well in the NHL is because of the brutality our rules allow--and then we kick their asses under international rules, too!

    Ha!

    And the Swedes. Always gotta watch out for the Swedes.

  • Loki||

    Hockey doesn't involve very physically fit, scantily clad women, so who gives a shit?

    I keed, I keed... but seriously.

  • Ken Shultz||

    With the Olympics, you get both.

    It's great that way!

    You watch some hockey, and then it cuts to team Russia on ice.

    It's amazing, what I think is the legacy of Russian infatuation with ballet!

    I think their women's ice skating program is built on some of that stuff, and even...

    If you watch like Eastern European versions of Ukraine's Got Talent? It's full of like pole dancers doing like ballet moves.

    http://www.youtube.com/results.....y=0&page;=

    When the Russians made a military connection with the French against Prussia all those centuries ago, who knew the resulting infatuation with ballet would still be be paying dividends by the means of world class strippers today?

  • Snark Plissken||

    Don't the Russians all think they were robbed in SLC by cheating American refs? To be fair, Russians assume everyone is on the take.

  • Loki||

    Russians assume everyone is on the take.

    Probably because in Russia, the take is on everyone!

  • Ken Shultz||

    +1

  • GILMORE||

    "There is no chance that the violence in Syria is going to stop while the Winter Olympics take place"

    Awww?

    But, the logo has a really cute bunny. With a blue tie! C'mon, Syria?! Get with the spirit!

  • ||

    All I'm gonna say is I never trust judged sports where the home team is involved. I can't help but think figure skating will be a key indicator of this.

  • Snark Plissken||

    The Winter Olympics in Sochi are already a bit of a mess

    Leon Wolf ‏@LeonHWolf 18h
    The Sochi Olympics have accomplished what Stalin couldn't - the American press is reporting unfavorably on Russia.
  • SugarFree||

    Sick burn, Leon.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I'm still not clear on the sharp line of demarcation between the bad, Islmaist, Christian-killing Syrian resistance, on the one hand, and the democratic, multicultural, kumbaya resistance on the other hand.

  • sarcasmic||

    All the actors in this play are bad.

  • Rasilio||

    Well, it's kind of like Game of Thrones over there.

    There were some good guys with noble intentions but they were mostly all killed off last season. Now the best you can hope for is a ruthless bloody dictator with generally good intentions but not afraid to murder and torture when necessary to maintain their power and you'd much more likely to end up with Joffrey

  • ||

    Did we see that we're dropping Warships in the Black Sea for the Olympics?

    Isn't Russia going to see this as a direct criticism of their ability to manage their own security?

    U.S. officials said they did not see any scenario in which military force would be used, but had instead been sent to the region to offer assistance if American athletes are forced to evacuate the winter games by a major terrorist attack.

    Both ships have small landing decks that can handle single helicopter landings, although officials said that if the competitors were forced to evacuate they would be more likely to leave by either commercial flights or on planes chartered by the State Department.

    However, officials said the two warships could assist in command and control of operations, vital communications and possible intelligence to American officials on the ground.

    (will probably throw this into PM Links too.

  • Snark Plissken||

    I saw this a few days ago and my impression was that it was with full Russian approval as a contingency backup.

  • Loki||

    And besides, if the Russians don't like us sending a couple of ships to help coordinate an evacuation of our citizens in the event of a major terrorist attack, they can fuck themselves for all I care.

  • Tonio||

    Isn't Russia going to see this as a direct criticism of their ability to manage their own security?

    Why, yes, they might.

    But if anything goes wrong they will also try to smear some of the blame onto us for not warning them, or something.

  • Brett L||

    I like this one about Russian officials stating they have surveillance footage of reporters trashing rooms. I miss the old Soviet dark humor. Back then it would have been: "Reporters don't like our hotels? Maybe we send them to gulag until they change minds."

  • Snark Plissken||

    "How many years did you get?"

    "8 years"

    "What for?"

    "Nothing"

    "That can't be, for nothing they give you 12"

  • Tonio||

    Yeah, that's hilarious. Apparently the guy's aide realized that saying that to an international audience was a major gaffe, and hustled his boss offstage.

    That is so going to come back to bite them, even if it is a bluff.

    As I said yesterday, it's one thing to bully your own press, but quite another to try that with foreign journalists who can write what they want once they are off your soil.

  • Tonio||

    Oh, and this incident also was linked in Reason 24 x 7, though before you posted here.

  • JeremyR||

    So what if Russia is a big backer of Assad?

    For one, the alternative is Al-Qaeda running the place.

    For another, I seem to recall Reason throwing a fit when Egyptian's government was deposed.

    How can they be for Syria's government being overthrown, while against Egypt's being overthrown? Except in both cases, they want to support Islamism (the rebels in Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt).

    Admittedly, this is pretty much a Stalin vs Hitler situation. Is there even a lesser evil? Best not to take sides at all

  • Ken Shultz||

    "So what if Russia is a big backer of Assad?

    For one, the alternative is Al-Qaeda running the place."

    Does the term false dichotomy mean anything to you?

    "For another, I seem to recall Reason throwing a fit when Egyptian's government was deposed."

    Reason is not a monolithic entity. The staff disagree about all sorts of things. Some of them supported the Iraq War. Many of them were against it.

    Incidentally, the Egyptian experiment with revolution is going well in some ways. Sure, they voted in a the Muslim Brotherhood, and then when the Brotherhood completely overstepped their mandate, they Egyptian Army mounted a wildly popular coup.

    The Muslim Brotherhood looked like a great idea when Mubarak was in power, and it was easy for the Brotherhood to blame the United States for all of Egypt's (and the Middle East's) problems when they never had to run anything for themselves.

    All that's changed now! If the Egyptian people ever put the Brotherhood back in power, I bet the Brotherhood does a lot more to moderate their positions and watch out for the interests of their marginal supporters. 'cause you know what the definition of insanity is, right?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Admittedly, this is pretty much a Stalin vs Hitler situation. Is there even a lesser evil?"

    It isn't about the character of the combatants. It's about American interests.

    It sometimes might be in America's best interests to support bad people.

    And where did you learn to identify the Syrian rebels so thoroughly with Islamists? Is it all from reading Feeney?

  • trutherator||

    This complaint is rather moot, since the USSA is also pouring in weapons and logistics support for the rebels, and the whole thing started there --meaning the whole organized violent rebellion thing-- at the behest of Western clandestine operations. Russia has merely been doing what the USSA always did, and by the way, it is the rebels who are sewing the most brutal tyranny against their own opponents, including by many reports the chemical attacks by the REBELS.

    Not that Russia is any refuge of freedom. I'm tired sometimes of libertarians who blame the economic woes of socialist states on the CIA, as if socialism was not already economically suicidal same as here in the USSA.

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