Top Duma official: US ‘shocked’ by Russian military might in Syria

© Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
The head of the State Duma Foreign Relations Committee believes the capabilities of the Russian Air Force demonstrated in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria have come as a shock to the US and NATO, but added that Europe should not consider Russia a threat.

It is one thing when you are informed in advance about a planned military operation, and it’s a completely different thing when you see the operation as it is unfolding. I am convinced that the combat and operational abilities demonstrated by Russia have come as a shock to the United States,” Aleksey Pushkov said in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

“They used to think that only the United States and NATO could wage such a large-scale airstrike war,” he added.

The lawmaker also noted that in his opinion Turkey’s downing of the Russian Su-24 aircraft was ordered by President Tayyip Erdogan because of the “psychological breakdown” he suffered after the decline in oil supplies from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) extremists.

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It was an attempt to terrorize us in order to curb our determination to continue the military operation, but the result was the opposite of what was intended,” Pushkov said.

First, we doubled the intensity of strikes on the territories that border Turkey and second, their operation had no consequences except for the fact that the attack on the Su-24 will cost Turkey several dozen billion dollars,” he elaborated.

The Russian official also mentioned the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine and said that such developments benefited primarily the United States and the European Union.
Both the USA and some forces in Europe want to turn Ukraine into a strategic counterbalance of Russia. They used the crisis in Ukraine to boost NATO’s strategic potential, agree the construction of rapid response bases in Poland and speed up the deployment of missile defense system components in Eastern Europe,” he noted.

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At the same time, the lawmaker said European nations should not fear Russia or its allies. “The real, unimaginable threat comes from the Middle East and it is Islamic State - people in the EU are starting to understand this,” Pushkov told the newspaper.