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A hunt for Russian tankers

6 th fleet attacks

The Americans have already cut off Iran from supplying the warring Syrian army with fuel. RF – in line.

Last Wednesday, five Iranian boats belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps tried to seize British oil tankers British Heritage in the Persian Gulf. According to CNN, when a British tanker was leaving the Persian Gulf and was entering the Strait of Hormuz, Iranian boats approached him and demanded a change in course.


In response, the frigate of the Royal Navy, HMS Montrose, who accompanied the ship, they pointed the guns at the IRGC boats and urged them to retreat.


It is noteworthy that this incident occurred a week after the British seized the Iranian oil tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar, en route to Syria. Apparently, the Persians tried to answer, but stumbled upon uncovered British guns …


It seems that the long-term war in Syria threatens to acquire a new, even more dangerous quality. Western allies in the fight against Bashar Assad are moving to a new strategy. The fighting vehicles of the Syrian military, which are finishing off militants in the north of the country, must stop in the coming months because of the total lack of fuel. From the point of view of the United States and its allies, for this, it is necessary to block routes for the supply of oil and oil products to this country as soon as possible.


In fact, there are only two such routes left: from Iran and Russia. And the seizure in Gibraltar by a British special forces on July 4, 2019, under the flag of the Panamanian flag Grace 1 of the supertanker with a cargo of crude oil for Syria, is only the first step on this very risky road.


Moreover. It is not excluded that soon the Americans will try to do the same with the oil-loading vessels of the Russian Federation, which, through the Black Sea straits, are also very actively taking oil, gasoline and diesel fuel from our Novorossiysk into the warring Syria. Including – both for our aviation grouping at the Russian military base Khmeimim and for the permanent operational connection of the Russian Navy in Tartus. Because in the Pentagon they are sure that a considerable part of this fuel falls to the Assad fighters.


Rest assured that if in the Mediterranean the ships of the 6th fleet of the US Navy, as well as their allies, in fact decide to board even one Russian tanker, nobody will seem to find it in the Mediterranean.


Something like this in an article recently published by the American edition of Bloomberg, argues Julian Lee, in a recent past, senior analyst at the Center for Global Energy Studies of the United States. In particular, he writes: “The Syrian government has two major oil-producing friends, Iran and Russia. Since the routes for the first one are obviously closed, you may have to turn to the second. This represents a new range of potential risks. To capture an Iranian ship in the Straits of Gibraltar is one thing. Stopping a Russian ship in the Aegean Sea is a different matter. ”


Actually (according to Bloomberg) from the point of view of logistics, channels for obtaining fuel from foreign markets look like this for Damascus today. By land – a complete bummer. Here is what Julian Lee writes about this: “The US allies control most of the oil-producing territory in Syria itself, while the US forces straddled most of the Iraqi-to-Syrian transitions that could be used to create a land route for Iranian products.”


The Syrians also do not get a ton through the existing pipelines in the region. The owners of the SUMED pipeline passing through the land of Egypt and connecting the Red and Mediterranean Seas refuse to supply the Assad regime due to the sanctions. Naturally, all the more so is impossible via the parallel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline through Israel.


For Assad, there is only one “road of life” – sea transport. From the main supplier for this country – Iran – this is the shortest route – around the Arabian Peninsula through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. This is only about 4,100 miles. What was previously acceptable to both Damascus and Tehran. In the period from 2016 to 2018, about 50,000 barrels of oil came to Syria daily from this route from the Persians, which is not without reason called the “blood” of any war throughout the world.


Baniyas, located just in the middle between the Russian bases Khmeimim and Tartus.


However, Baniyas is interesting to the Persians not only by the oil refinery located in it, which instantly turned into a strategic object for Damascus. It has long been the talk that the Persians intend to deploy in this city its own naval base. First on the Mediterranean. So that together with Russian warships and airplanes standing nearby from there, to create a more powerful rocket counterbalance to the 6th fleet of the US Navy.


Naturally, the Americans do not intend to observe all this without a murmur. At first, all vessels seen in the transportation of oil for Syria through the Suez Canal were included in the sanctions list of the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Treasury. As a result, last November, the Iranian supertanker Suezmax Sea Shark, loaded to the brim with oil for the port of Baniyas, habitually went through the Red Sea and requested permission to pass the Suez to the Mediterranean. However, the Egyptians obedient to the West gave a turn to the crew from the gate.


Further (according to Bloomberg), the anchor supertanker stood at the Egyptian coast for no less than five months. In April 2019, he again attempted to pass through the canal, but was again mercilessly deployed by Cairo.


Thus, a couple of months ago, the previously reliable gasoline “road of life” quietly died for Assad. That most certainly had the most disastrous effect on the outcome of the operations of the Syrian troops in Idlib against the remnants of the gangster Islamist radicals.


What was left to Damascus and Tehran? To make new oil flow route, albeit terribly unprofitable economic path around Africa. Because from the Persian Gulf around Africa to Syria it is – 14,500 miles. Against, we remind, 4100 miles through Suez. In other words – the route is extended by more than three times. But the Allies had no other way.


The first through Gibraltar on a long journey at the beginning of the summer was supertanker Grace 1 which was arrested, detained by British special forces in Gibraltar on July 4. The importance of such an operation for London and Washington is evidenced by the fact that long before approaching Gibraltar, the Iranian vessel was watched by Her Majesty’s large reconnaissance ship HMS Echo. At the entrance from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea, a helicopter with well-armed Marines, who quickly took control of the absolutely civilian Grace 1, was raised from its side. And instead of Baniyas they escorted him closer to the European courts.


Further approving shouts from official Washington followed. And shaped hysteria in Tehran. Iran threatened to retaliate against British force by force of arms. London took this very seriously. Own tankers in the Persian Gulf. The Royal Navy is now escorted by destroyers and frigates.


In a word – the situation is in a very dynamic development. But the bottom line is one thing – the fuel loop around Assad’s neck and his army is getting tighter. What would Damascus do without Iranian oil?


It seems that deliveries from Russia remain the only real way out. Not necessarily the official government of Syria, so as not to tease the West. You can – under the guise of logistical support of our military bases in Khmeymim and Tartus. How to check where fuel trucks and railway tanks will go from there?


It is quite natural that such a possibility is discussed in the United States, at a minimum. And then they discuss the degree of risk when trying to stop Russian tankers going to the Mediterranean from Novorossiysk. Is it possible at least with one of them to do the same as with the Iranian Grace 1?


I would not immediately reject such a possibility. Seven years ago, on June 19, 2012, the British cargo ship Alaid was already detained by the same British on route from Kaliningrad to Syria. The reason for the detention was the message of the British special services about the ship carrying the repaired Mi-25 helicopters for the army of Bashar al-Assad.


Our opponents in the West acted simply, but legally impeccable: Standard Club, an insurance company, for formal reasons, withdrew the insurance of the vessel, which made its entry into international ports illegal. It was necessary for our “Alaid” not to be lonely, to return to Murmansk.


Actually, to make sure that Moscow, with the start of our operation in Syria, does not exclude a single day the possibility of intercepting Russian ships by NATO ships, we should recall some details of the creation of the famous “Syrian express train”.


In 2015 and a little later, its base was made up of almost exclusively large amphibious assault ships (BDK) of the Russian Navy, which had to be pushed to the Middle East from all fleets. Why all? Because in peacetime, the armed seizure of one warship by another practically means a declaration of war. Whereas forceful interception of a civilian vessel for various offenses is a common practice throughout the world. For violation of international sanctions — including.


In the US, they consider that their AN-64 helicopter is stronger than the Ka-52, especially in the mountains.

What was the way out of our leadership to ensure that the Syrian Express worked smoothly? Rusted Turkish dry cargo ships and one former “Ukrainian” (“Georgiy Agafonov”) were hastily bought and repaired. Which instantly received quite Russian names “Dvinitsa-50”, “Kyzyl-60”, “Vologda-50”, “Kazan-60”, etc. But the main thing was that the St. Andrew flag of the Russian auxiliary fleet was hoisted above each of them. Despite the absence of weapons and fully civilian crews, this made them part of the Russian Navy. And guaranteed free passage to Syria.


Since today we are talking specifically about the supply of oil and petroleum products from Russia to Syria, it is absolutely clear that the US 6th Fleet will not stop Black Sea Fleet tankers for any price – “Ivan Bubnov”, “Imam”, “Koyda”, “ Don “and others. However, not all of them on the go. And the rest may not be enough to ensure the logistics of the protracted war in Syria. Then for this business it is necessary to attract civilian sailors. That’s what the Americans can and “brake” at the exit from the Dardanelles.


In this case, the experience of the “Syrian express” can be very useful to us. Part of the tankers to the Ministry of Defense will have to urgently buy from ordinary shipping companies. Our and foreign. And urgently decorate their masts Andrew flags. As charms from all sorts of adversity on the way to Syria.


In my eyes, the fuel noose tightened by the States around the neck of Assad does not allow, to delay with such purchases.


And at this time.


Russia is alarmed by the situation in the Strait of Hormuz, as the risk of direct confrontation around Iran has increased. Such a statement was made by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Ryabkov, reports TASS.


– The situation is very alarming. We are convinced that, as a matter of fact, the risks of direct confrontation have intensified so much lately that it is becoming more difficult to predict further developments. The reason for this is understandable – the purposeful line of Washington to exacerbate, “- said the diplomat.


He stressed that the British ’action to detain an Iranian ship in Gibraltar is“ outrageous ”.


Meanwhile, Egyptian special forces, according to OilPrice with reference to the Arab news portal Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, also captured a Ukrainian tanker in the Suez Canal, which carried Iranian oil.

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