On June 15, NBC TV cited a Pentagon source saying that Russian naval units were en route to Syria to protect the Russian facilities at Tartus. According to the official Russian news agency, Itar-Tass, that is not true. Rather, a number of warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are prepared to go to Syria, "in the case it is necessary to protect the Russian logistics base in Tartus, Syria," according to source on the Russian General Staff.
According to the source, "several warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, including large landing ships with marines aboard, are fully prepared to go on the voyage." However, it strongly denied U.S. media reports claiming that a Black Sea Fleet warship had already headed for Tartous. "All the ships are staying in Sevastopol but the Cesar Kunikov large landing ship. Either the U.S. intelligence service works poorly or they have a poor knowledge of geography," it said.
On June 16, a Ria Novosti wire quotes Deputy Commander in Chief of the Russian Air Force Gen.-Maj. Valdimir Gradusov on the readiness of the Air Force to provide air cover for the Russian Navy "in the event that ships are sent to Syria to evacuate Russians."
He said: "Air Force aircraft will be ready to perform any mission we are assigned by the supreme commander-in-chief" (i.e., Putin). He was answering a question about possible evacuations, and he went on to say that Russians in Syria would not be "abandoned to fate" if the situation escalates. "It is logical that one must defend one's citizens, and I am sure that we will not abandon them, but will provide evacuation and transport out of the zone of conflict if necessary."
- U.S. Military Action? -
Clearly an escalation is broadly anticipated in Russia. Russia Today reported June 15 that DOD officials confirmed to CNN that the Pentagon has finalized procedures for how U.S. forces could combat the Syria government.
What the Russian media do not highlight, is the ongoing resistance of top U.S. military figures, including General Dempsey of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to such a military operation—which they know will lead to confrontation with Russia, toward World War III.