MOSCOW, Ru. – Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate, otherwise known by its acronym GRU, has intercepted communications between U.S. intelligence assets operating in Iraq and Syria that indicate the United States is providing material and logistical support to ISIS as part of a proxy war against Russia, a senior Russian intelligence official told The Moscow Times today.
In response to the growing threat of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, Russia began deploying its Aerospace Forces to Syria in September where President Bashar al-Assad, one of Moscow’s closest allies in the region, is struggling to maintain control of Syria and prevent it from falling into the hands of violent extremists.
“We hold a vested interest in Syria’s survival,” President Putin said in a televised statement Tuesday. “With our commitment to ensuring security and safety for the Syrian people, we hope to continue to maintain proactive trade and strategic relations with our ally.” Syria’s port of Tartus hosts Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base, a key strategic launch-point for its nuclear-armed Black Sea Fleet.
Moreover, Stroytransgaz, a leading oil and natural gas company, oversees the largest Russian-run operation in Syria with over eighty Russian employees working in-country. In addition to providing technical support for the Arab Gas Pipeline, the company has several ongoing projects in the region worth, in total, around $1.1 billion USD.
President Putin criticized U.S. president Barack Obama’s “arrogant approach to diplomacy” following a meeting of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in the United States last week where President Putin laid out Russia’s case for involvement in the Syrian civil war.
Defense Minister General Sergey Shoigu, in an address to Parliament, said the United States has openly defied a request from Moscow to avoid flying its aircraft in sections of Syrian airspace where Russian forces are currently conducting joint counter-terrorism operations with the Syrian military. “The U.S. continues to undermine our efforts to help bring stability to the country,” said General Shoigu, while adding, “Their ongoing presence in the region hinders the potential for a peaceful outcome in the foreseeable future.”