Russia is entrenched in Syria, but does not intend to stop there. The next item is Lebanon. The goal of the Russians, as the publication of the "National Interest" indicates, is clear: Moscow wants to get another base on the Mediterranean. According to some reports, Dmitry Medvedev ordered the Russian Ministry of Defense to begin military cooperation with Lebanon.
Will Lebanon become Russia's new outpost in the Middle East? On this topic, argues the American analyst Michael Peck, a specialist in defense and history, living in Oregon. His new article was published in the magazine "National Interest".
The author is confident that Russia, which has acquired naval and air bases in Syria, can now take a course towards Lebanon. As evidence, Michael Peck leads the decision ... Dmitry Medvedev.
As indicated in the article, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev "instructed the Russian Ministry of Defense to work out an agreement on military cooperation with Lebanon". Moscow wants the Lebanese ports to be open to Russian warships, and Lebanese airports would become transit points for Russian combat aircraft.
Where did Peck get the information about Medvedev's such order? It turns out, from the Russian site "Sputnik News" in Arabic! From the Arabic Peck translated the text into English using an electronic translator from Google.
If you use the same method, you can find out that the Russian Prime Minister instructed the Russian Defense Ministry in February to begin negotiations with his Lebanese counterpart on signing an agreement on military cooperation between Russia and Lebanon. The draft agreement provides for the exchange of information on defense issues and the promotion of mutual confidence of the parties in the field of combating terrorism, as well as the development of relations in the field of joint military training.
This is not an invention or "Kremlin propaganda". The official document exists. This is an order of the Government of the Russian Federation from 3 February 2018 for the number 145-p. Its title: "On the signing of an agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Lebanese Republic on military cooperation".
Relying on paragraph 1 of Article 11 of the Federal Law of the Russian Federation "On International Treaties of the Russian Federation", the government ordered "to approve the draft agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Lebanon agreed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and other interested federal executive bodies and the draft agreement with the Lebanese side Republic on military cooperation ". The Ministry of Defense of Russia set the task "to hold negotiations with the Lebanese side with the participation of interested federal executive bodies and, after reaching an agreement, sign the agreement on behalf of the Russian government, permitting, if necessary, to make changes to the attached draft that are not of a fundamental nature."
Signed: Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation D. Medvedev.
The agreement, M. Peck writes in the National Interest, will cover a wide range of activities, including joint exercises, cooperation in the fight against terrorism and Russian coaching of the Lebanese military.
M. Peck complains that such a message, flashed in the Arabic edition of "Sputnik News", for some reason passed English-language publications and did not appear in the main Arab media, even in Al-Jazeera or the Lebanese newspaper "Daily Star" (The Daily Star).
Curious and more. As the author further points out, the "Russian plan" was presented by pro-Iranian publications: the resource "Al-Mayadin", which is believed to be close to Hezbollah, and the Al-Manar website linked to Hezbollah.
What's going on? The Russian-Lebanese military agreement is noteworthy in that, unlike neighboring Syria, Lebanon and its army are oriented to the West. At the same time, the Lebanese Armed Forces still use Russian weapons: tanks and assault rifles. However, in 2008, the army of Lebanon refused to offer Moscow the supply of ten MiG-29 fighters. Most military equipment in Lebanon today - American and Western European models, including M60 and M48 tanks, M113 armored vehicles and TOW anti-tank missiles. According to the "Security Assistance Monitor", since 2008, the administrations of Obama and Trump have made military supplies to Lebanon for more than 357 million dollars. American support for the country continues: it is reported about the supply of M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and the forthcoming sale of six MD-530G combat helicopters to assist in the fight against the "Islamic state" (prohibited in Russia). And this despite the accusations that the army of Lebanon was an "auxiliary" unit of Hezbollah! That is, in some ways Washington "effectively equips its enemies," Michael Peck sneers.
Then the analyst goes on to the main: will Lebanon become Russia's next ally, like Syria? Damascus provided the Kremlin with a naval base of Tartus, and Moscow has a "friendly port" on the Mediterranean. Currently, Russian troops and planes are based in Syria and support the government of Assad.
But the proposed agreement with Lebanon mentions mutual visits to Russia and Lebanon, and not Russian ships based in Lebanon, said Olga Oliker, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. That is, there is not something like an agreement, according to which agreements are established with Syria. The Russian government's order is thus "not a landmark event," but a step on the road. However, this step is "part of Russia's efforts" to expand ties in the Middle East. It also shows "Lebanon's desire to have more partners and options".
But what does Lebanon get? "He needs a protective umbrella against Israel," says Tony Badran, a specialist in the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
It also seems important to the expert that Beirut can use the prospect of a Russian-Lebanese military agreement in order to draw "more help" from Washington. In this regard, Mr. Badran believes that Washington should avoid disputes with Russia over Lebanon. Just need to "wish good luck" to Lebanon and Russia in the affairs with Israel, he ironically.
In fact, we note that foreign experts are guessing at the coffee grounds. For the time being it is only a matter of formal agreements between Russia and Lebanon, or rather, about their forerunner. Other analysts already see the "consolidation" of Russia where the US is still well-established. About the protective umbrella "against Israel" is too much said.
The path to agreements with Lebanon is nothing more than a continuation of Russia's efforts to expand relations in the Middle East. Where Moscow is able to expand its influence, it will do so.