"Errors of Saakashvili" by Erdogan
The Turkish president did not enter these negotiations with the arguments that he hoped to have. When the Turks started all this catastrophe with Idlib, they hoped that Russia would not get in their way, the Russian contingent was relatively small, Russia itself was far from Syria (but it was close to Turkey, and this was not taken into account there), Russia appreciated cooperation with the Turks and will not go to its break or aggravation. And the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is weakened by a long war, and the Turkish forces, together with the bandit forces that they take care of from the banned in the Russian Federation HTS and other terrorist (and "moderate" structures that differ slightly from the "official" terrorists), will not be able to resist. In addition, Turkey clearly overestimated the capabilities of its armed forces in general, and in particular the contingent that the Turks sent to Idlib.
In general, Erdogan made a typical “Saakashvili's mistake”, the only difference being that Saakashvili was pushed to her from Washington, but who pushed Erdogan is a big question so far. Either he himself thought of it, or it was someone from the former, but having achieved recognition of their loyalty, putschists, for example, Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar, one of the "locomotives" of power interventionist policies in Syria and Libya, or all together came to this . But in the end, the Turks themselves made the rake they stepped on.
Unexpectedly tough position of Russia
Everything went wrong. The Syrian army was not afraid of the Turkish threats and did not listen to the demands to stop the successful offensive and withdraw "beyond the Sochi lines." The Turks put forward these demands until yesterday’s negotiations and constantly threatened, if they did not listen, to achieve their strength. But in the end, these threats began to sound like some kind of background noise like the promises of Kiev politicians and generals about the “impending breakthrough” over Russia, the return of the Crimea and Donbass, etc. Why the Syrians were not afraid, of course.
Contrary to the dreams of the Turks, Russia immediately took a very tough stance and firmly supported its ally, taking the risk of breaking ties with Turkey and a direct military conflict, and, moreover, actively using force against the Turks. At the same time, first warning the Turks about the possibility of a “worst-case scenario” in the form of our direct participation, in which at first they did not believe. Turkish units mixed with terrorist battle formations or located at non-agreed deployment points (observation posts, of which there are exactly 12, with a strength of company personnel, and they are mainly in the rear of the SAA), were immediately threatened with fire and missile bombing from both the Syrians and the artillery and aviation grouping of troops (forces) (GV (s)) in the SAR. This also applied to 32 "self-proclaimed" platoon "observation posts, but, in fact, platoon strongholds, which are just as far from the normal GP in terms of arrangement and fortification as stars from Earth. And to other Turkish contingents in Idlib, which, of course, would not have gotten into the "mechanized division", which was recently spoken about in our Ministry of Defense, but most likely gained a total of brigade. The Turks, moreover, turned out to be at least indirectly involved in the death of 4 of our snipers from the Central Security Service of the FSB on February 1 in the Aleppo region, and this also wrote themselves a “black mark”.
Receive from Russia, but not from Russia
Almost immediately, the Turks began to “fly in” from both aviation and artillery, and it’s easy to understand whose, not always, of course. Moreover, in a growing column, it’s either hit the location, the artillery position, and eventually hit the headquarters, which officially killed 36 Turks, and unofficially the Turks themselves call numbers from 56-65 and up to 100 people. The list of losses of the Turkish army began to grow rapidly, and, no matter how the Turks tried to cheat with losses, various lists of the victims began to appear in Turkey, many times different from officialdom (for example, 156 names in one of them, and these people really died in the army , the question of when and where). It came to the use of the Tochka-U BR in the Turks, already by the Syrian army, and the Smerch MLRS. In the end, the Turks abandoned the practice of directly supporting the militants and took part of the forces deeper into the controlled territory, without stopping, however, the disturbing artillery fire.
The Turks themselves, of course, did not recognize and will never admit that they mainly got from Russia, even when Russian bombers in a frame characteristic of the VKS only came across in the frame. That's because Russia will have to answer then, which in the same way agrees with the Turks, that it has nothing to do with it. And Russia's response to this already can be very different, but certainly not only economic, but this time obviously military. And in Turkey, obviously, they understood that Russia would not be limited only to its own forces in the Syrian theater, and then no NATO could save the Turks. Yes, and NATO, in general, wished the Turks "stay and good mood", and in words even a declarative declaration of the alliance was vetoed by old friends of the Turks from Greece. The United States also did not note anything other than idle talk. The Turks, if they were counting on something, obviously forgot 2015, then it was the same. Well, this is not to deal with Libya or Syria itself, here is Russia, and this is “quite different,” as the liberal-minded public likes to say. What are allied obligations?
And the combat readiness of the Turkish army was much lower than expected. Even to enter Idlib, the Turkish General Staff had to “pull off” two battalion tactical groups from the brigades of the 1st Army, in particular, from the 65th mechanized brigade, which suffered the biggest so far simultaneous casualties of the Turks in the strike on February 27. The rest, including the brigades of the most “militant” 4th Corps fighting with the Kurdish partisans, were apparently not combat ready. It turned out that the Turkish army is very bad and controlled - the group in Idlib has a big "lag" in passing reports and reports up to the headquarters in the border Khatai, and in passing orders from top to bottom, it has problems in supply. Moreover, the precision munitions of the Turks turned out to be much less than was necessary even for a small-scale operation.
The strength arguments of the Turks "did not play." The practice of saturating the militant detachments with their rather disgusting armored vehicles yielded nothing - the artillery of the SAA and the Russian, as well as the aviation, was deep "up to the lantern", the KhTSh fighters were traveling in aluminum cans ACV-15 and M113, or these are armored trucks that KhTSh, with the help of the same Turks, is being remade in series, or is it the Soviet BMP-1. In the same way, there was no difference, the T-62 tank supports the attack, or the M60 of any level of modernization (these also made their way and burned better). Nor did the Turkish "squadrons", which stimulate the bearded bandits to be very demotivated by constant defeats, fight. There was artillery support, and, coupled with reconnaissance UAVs, which at first practically did not touch, some damage was caused to the SAA, but not at all as we would like.
The only argument that allowed the Turkish-terrorist groups to turn the tide for a short period of time was the strike UAVs (UAVs) in the absence of military air defense, which the Syrians simply did not need before, inflicting short-term but very decent losses. And the fact that the militants and Turkish "vacationers" managed to advance in the area of the M5 and Neurab and Sarakib highways, there is still a "merit" for the SAA itself, which replaced their main strike units, the 25th Special Forces Division (25 Special Operations Forces) of the Tiger Force "and the 5th Volunteer Assault Corps (5 DShK) in the area, sending them to the south of Idlib, in units that are not champions of SAA for stamina in defense. And then, when the headquarters of the GV (s) in Khmeimim, as the manager of the operation, reacted to the Turkish atrocities by transferring the Pantsir air defense systems, the Buk-M2 air defense systems and others to the front, equipping the units with anti-aircraft guns with MANPADS and providing electronic suppression, adversely affecting small UAVs and causing problems with large UAVs, the Turkish gambit with drones quickly ended. The Turkish unmanned air fleet quickly suffered heavy losses and sharply reduced its activity. And the Syrians, instead of fleeing to Damascus, as they had dreamed about in Ankara, Idlib and Ukraine, for some reason abruptly began to learn to dig in and disguise themselves. It would be better, of course, they had studied this before. But better late than never.
The Turkish army itself, frankly, did not make the impression that its numerous “fans” created among analysts: the Turks showed that they are also very illiterate and arrogant warriors who can’t create and do not like normal field fortification or masking positions nor the normal deployment of troops and armaments, reducing losses from artillery fire and missile bombing. Moreover, the mistakes they made are difficult to explain even with impudence, because they have already dealt with both Kurds and terrorists from ISIS, which we have banned. To locate very long-range 155-mm self-propelled guns 5-6 km from the front line, where they are even vulnerable to mortars, is this normal for the "second NATO army"? And having compiled self-propelled guns in a heap. Apparently, is this also the norm for the whole of NATO? As well as neglecting the basics of camouflage and field fortifications? Even the Ukrainian warriors, in spite of their rather stupid understanding of the Soviet charters, which they tried to forget, didn’t succeed, could teach the Turks in this matter. But it should be noted. that Turkish gunners fired quite well, until the stocks of adjustable shells showed the bottom - otherwise they would not have asked for high-precision munitions from the United States.
In general, as soon as the “unmanned factor” was pushed into a certain framework, and the position of the SAA was covered by the hastily created system, but the military air defense system, and obviously the aviation began to destroy the UAV, the effectiveness and artillery fire immediately fell, and the pressure almost disappeared, which these devices exerted on unstable Syrians. In addition, those who were able to advance and win were again thrown into the battle - 25 SDPN, 5 DShK, Hezbollah, Palestinians from Liva al-Quds, etc. As a result, almost everything in the important intersection of the M4 and M5 highways (Neyraba and Sarakiba) was returned to the end of the negotiations, except for Neyrab himself, and in the south, even if not all, but won back.
The choice between bad and worse
The Turks faced a difficult choice. The escalation of hostilities will lead to an escalation on our part. Moreover, the option of continuing "indirect military operations" on our part is not ruled out, when the Turks will continue to receive accurate and heavy strikes from the "Syrian" artillery and aircraft, but on a completely different scale, while the losses have already reached extremely unpleasant values without any visible success. The breakdown of economic ties with the Russian Federation is not at all necessary for Turkey - its economy is not in the best condition, it can finish it off.
Yes, it was possible to restrain the CAA attack, but no one planned to erase the entire “green spot” from the map of Syria this time. It was planned to recapture the M5 highway, vital for the economy of Syria and its usual locomotive - Aleppo. The city, of course, was badly damaged, but not all, and the industry was still preserved, and getting there was long and uncomfortable. It was planned to recapture the main fertile areas under the control of militants. This task, like the return of the M5, has been completed. Then, when it became clear that the resistance of the militants had completely weakened, a desire arose to take away both the south of Idlib and M4. But Idlib himself and the cities behind the tracks were hardly anyone hoping to return at this stage of the war. The key question that concerns both the Turks, who already understand that the game is lost, and Damascus: where to get the crowds of bearded bandits, their families, who are not much better, and those who lived quite comfortably under the rule of the Islamists? Damascus such "fellow citizens" (among whom are full of foreigners) did not give up in vain, in Turkey they need no more than a dog’s fifth leg. In any case, we need some kind of habitat, a reserve of bearded goblins, which should gradually shrink as they are gradually disposed of. The whole question was, in fact, in the size of this reserve and the conditions - there was a dispute about them.
From the very beginning, Russia was satisfied with the situation of temporary consolidation of force achieved. weapons status quo. This has happened before, the way it is now. The situation on the map is much better than it was before, and if you can also improve it during the negotiations, excellent!
"Drain" under the eyes of the great empress
Many noticed that Putin even the place of negotiations with Erdogan picked up an interesting from a psychological point of view - a hall where Empress Catherine the Great looked at the Turks, who are remembered very well in Turkey, as well as her magnificent commanders and naval commanders: Suvorov, Potemkin, Ushakov and others . This is not the first time that Turkish delegations in Moscow have undergone such trolling. Apparently, the invisible presence of one of the greatest rulers, not only in Russian stories, but also in European, had an impact. In this hall, the clock also stood with a sculpture dedicated to the feat of Russian soldiers in the penultimate official Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878. Interestingly, Erdogan paid attention to them? Or maybe Putin himself spoke about them?
What was agreed upon in the negotiations? About the ceasefire? So the SAA needs a respite, it is impossible to advance indefinitely, it takes time to replenish troops, train replenishment, repair equipment, replenish its losses, transport ammunition, and so on. Yes, just need a vacation. Moreover, the KhTSh have already stated that a truce is not a decree for them, which means that they will continue to be ironed by aviation and artillery. That is, the truce may well be frustrated. Have you agreed that Russia and Turkey create a security corridor, a demilitarized zone 6 km wide north and south of the M4 highway, and then begin joint patrols along it? But on both sides of the road there are only bandits, and how the Turks are going to remove them from there - it will be interesting to see. If they cannot or will not, they will have to act by other methods. At the same time, the piece that remains south of the M4 and the demilitarized zone under the control of the "green", obviously, is leaving Damascus - it will not work in any way to supply terrorists in these settlements. And if they don’t leave, they will have to ask by force.
Nobody remembers about the M5 highway and about some kind of “returns beyond the lines of the Sochi agreements and the line of observation points”. The order on the M5 is already being monitored by Russian units, which equipped their strongholds there and patrol the track. Obviously, the “rear” checkpoints will have to leave to the Turks, those who are surrounded by the SAA, although so far there are no direct indications of this. But, since the old lines of agreement have sunk into oblivion - they have nothing to do there. Apparently, they will strengthen the posts that are located behind the M4 and M5 highways, on the “so far green” territory. The only thing the Turks got was the legitimization of their new strong points, and the fact that the "sponsored" bandits would get a respite and not flee hundreds of thousands to Turkey. But this, if they really cease to shoot, otherwise there have already been many such truces. The previous one was from January 12, but no one noticed him.
As for Idlib behind the tracks, no one is going to touch him yet. It is better to let this region be a stone on the neck of Erdogan. Because with the loss of routes (through which various smuggling went, including to the regions controlled by Damascus - this is the East, they smuggled in there before the war), with the loss of fertile regions, the region becomes fully subsidized by the Turks. And this is not cheap. And the Turks themselves buy bread from Russia themselves, and they will have to share with the "bearded."
It turns out that the "Turkish sultan" simply "leaked". This is also understood in Turkey, where among the propaganda youth and Islamist-minded citizens such a spiritual fire began that its echoes reach the Russian segment of the Network. Apparently, they were waiting (along with their voluntary "assistants" from Ukraine) that Erdogan had come to accept Putin’s surrender. And it turned out almost the opposite, although the "Turkish partners" were given the opportunity to save face. Partially. And what it will cost the Turkish leader in the election is a question. In addition to the unsuccessful intervention in Syria, the growing problems in Libya, coupled with the escalating conflict with Egypt, Cyprus, Israel, Italy, France and Greece around the exclusive economic zone and shelf, are added.
And there are big doubts that Erdogan will be able to regain at least part of the very shaky trust that he managed to win from Putin since 2016. In Moscow, until the end, the Turks were not believed and will never be believed, of course, but at least somehow, apparently, the Turks were perceived as relatively adequate partners. Even if cooperation in the field of military-technical cooperation and other projects does not suffer, then all the same - any actions of the "partners" from Ankara will be called into question.