Thread on foreign policy and world events during the Trump administration.
A Russian oligarch believed to control the Russian mercenaries who attacked U.S. troops and their allies in Syria this month was in close touch with Kremlin and Syrian officials in the days and weeks before and after the assault, according to U.S. intelligence reports.
In intercepted communications in late January, the oligarch, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, told a senior Syrian official that he had “secured permission” from an unspecified Russian minister to move forward with a “fast and strong” initiative that would take place in early February.
Prigozhin made front-page headlines last week when he was indicted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on charges of bankrolling and guiding a long-running Russian scheme to conduct “information warfare” during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 23, 2018
— David I. Ramadan (@DavidIRamadan) March 1, 2018
And that brings me to one of the most momentous mysteries of the new year. Did American and Russian forces just engage in a deadly clash in Syria, and was that clash the direct result of a Putin-approved effort to test American defenses? While Americans were arguing over Russian Facebook posts, did American air power and artillery leave up to 300 Russians dead on a Syrian battlefield?
…the situation in Syria is extraordinarily dangerous. It’s understandable that international eyes are focused on North Korea, but consider this: If reports of hundreds of Russian dead are correct, the American military just killed more Russians than it did in any single encounter throughout the entirety of the Cold War. That’s stunning. At present, a few thousand American troops are in the midst of the world’s most vicious war, rubbing up against hostile Russians, Syrians, Turks, Iranians, and Lebanese. Confrontations are inevitable. Proper management of those confrontations is not.
Therefore it’s more vital than ever that the Trump administration formulate and articulate a clear strategy for American involvement in Syria.
This is worrisome:
Mattis has resisted Trump’s calls for sweeping strikes out of concern they could trigger a dangerous clash with Russia and Iran https://t.co/LtLTWtcD9N
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) April 13, 2018
Here’s the frame of mind for Trump today (not a parody account):
DOJ just issued the McCabe report – which is a total disaster. He LIED! LIED! LIED! McCabe was totally controlled by Comey – McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2018
Trump says he ordered armed forces to launch precision strikes in Syria, in conjunction with France and England
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 14, 2018
The sudden preparation for an announcement by @POTUS caught even some senior administration officials by surprise.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) April 14, 2018
No way. I go a little crazy when I hear information like this.
More on those Russian mercenaries and what happened to several hundred of them:
In February, Russian mercenaries attacked a US base in #Syria. Hundreds were killed in retaliatory airstrikes. The Kremlin tried to cover up the incident, but we got hold of intercepted recordings in which some of the contract soldiers discussed the encounter. pic.twitter.com/eoQMiXk5sX
— On Assignment with Richard Engel (@OARichardEngel) April 28, 2018