Showing posts with label Airline. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Airline. Show all posts

September 28, 2016

Investigation Shows Missile Downed Airliner Came from Russia

An investigation that implicated Russia in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was able to track the movements of a missile launcher thanks to photos and video clips from witnesses.
Investigators revealed social media posts aided their efforts to meticulously chart the surface-to-air missile system's path - concluding it was brought into rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine from Russia.
Prosecutors confirmed the plane with 298 people on board was shot down from the village of Pervomaysk by a Russian-made missile and the launcher was trucked back to Russia after the attack.
Reconstruction footage released by investigators contains witness photos and video that show the missile launcher traveling through the city of Donetsk and smaller towns towards the launch site. 

A spokesman had claimed: "First-hand radar data identified all flying objects which could have been launched or in the air over the territory controlled by rebels at that moment.
"The data are clear-cut...there is no rocket. If there was a rocket, it could only have been fired from elsewhere."
Russian officials also tipped off the JIT (Joint Investigation Team) that the rural town of Zaroshchenske was a potential launch site – claiming it was controlled by Ukrainian forces at the time.

A Dutch-led criminal investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 released Wednesday found evidence the airliner was struck by a Russian-made Buk missile that was moved into eastern Ukraine from Russia.

The report confirmed multiple findings in the past of the cause of the crash of the Boeing 777, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, killing all 298 people aboard.

Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Dutch Central Crime Investigation Department, said communications intercepts showed pro-Russian separatists separatists had called for the missile to be deployed, and reported its arrival in rebel-held parts of eastern Ukraine.

The missile which brought down Flight MH17 two years ago over eastern Ukraine was transported into the area from Russia, a Dutch-led investigation has found. Video provided by AFP Newslook

“It may be concluded MH17 was shot down by a 9M38 missile launched by a Buk, brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation, and that after launch was subsequently returned to the Russian Federation,” Paulissen said at a news conference, announcing the results of the two-year investigation.

Russia, which denied responsibility for the July 17, 2014, crash from the start, continued to do so Wednesday.

Initially, Russian officials suggested a Ukrainian fighter jet flying nearby could have shot down the airliner. On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the Dutch-led investigation was “biased and politically motivated.”

The Russian military insisted Wednesday that no air defense missile systems have ever been sent from Russia to Ukraine. The Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, claimed the investigation's conclusions were based on information from the internet and Ukrainian special services, the Associated Press reported.

In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the latest findings are "another step toward bringing to justice those responsible for this outrageous attack."

Eliot Higgins, founder of the open-source research group Bellingcat, whose early reports pointing at Russian involvement were verified by the Dutch report, said Russia has consistently issued false information about the crash "from claims about satellite imagery to claims about the movements of Buk missile launchers."

Russia has repeatedly denied allegations that pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine were responsible for downing the plane. Russia also has denied supporting the separatists with arms and money, despite evidence to the contrary from foreign governments and news media.

Prosecutors from the Joint Investigation Team — made up of investigators from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine — told the relatives of those killed that they would investigate about 100 people over the incident, the BBC reported.

Robby Oehler, whose niece died in the crash, told the broadcaster: "They told us how the Buk was transported [and] how they came to that evidence from phone taps, photo, film material, video."

A separate investigation by the Dutch Safety Board concluded in October 2015 that the plane was hit by a Russian-made Buk missile.

Eduard Basurin, from the Donetsk People's Republic rebel group, told the Interfax news agency: "We never had such air defense systems, nor the people who could operate them. Therefore we could not have shot down the Boeing.” 

In advance of the report's release, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia wanted "an impartial and full investigation of that tragedy."

"No conclusions can be made without taking into consideration the latest information that was published by our military — namely the primary radar data that recorded all aircraft or objects that could be launched or be in the air on the territory controlled by militia at that time," he told reporters, according to the Tass news agency.

He added that "the data are unambiguous and there is no missile (that allegedly downed the jet) there. If there had been a missile, then it could have been launched from other territory. In this case, I do not say which territory — this is a matter of experts.”


June 27, 2016

Paris Opens Accident Investigation on EgyptAir// Terrorism Not the Cause

We think of terrorism when there is an airplane crash or when there is something for which we don’t have immediate answers. On this particular crash in which terrorism is been on everyone’s lips at least as far as the French government investigation is concern it was not terror but probably an unfortunate accident or even a criminal accident.
A spokeswoman told the Associated Press that it would begin as an accident inquiry because there was no evidence so far to link it to terrorism.
The authorities, she said, were "not at all" favoring the theory the Airbus A320 was brought down deliberately.
Flight MS804 from Paris to Cairo crashed in the Mediterranean Sea on 19 May, killing all 66 people on board.
Earlier on Monday, Egyptian investigators said the damaged memory chips from the plane's cockpit voice and data recorders had been flown to France.
Technicians at France's BEA air accident investigations agency will attempt to clean and repair them, and then send them back to Egypt for analysis.

ocean depth map for area where authorities are searching for flight MS804

The flight recorders were recovered from the plane's wreckage, about 290km (180 miles) north of the Egyptian coast and at a depth of about 3,000m (9,800ft).
The cause of the crash remains a mystery.
Automated electronic messages sent by the plane revealed that smoke detectors went off in a toilet and in the avionics area below the cockpit, minutes before the plane's signal was lost.
Radar data shows the plane turned 90 degrees left and then 360 degrees to the right, dropping from 11,300m (37,000ft) to 4,600m (15,000ft) and then 3,000m (10,000ft) before it disappeared.

What do we know so far?

Map of EgyptAir flight route

  • EgyptAir Flight MS804 vanished over the eastern Mediterranean early on Thursday 19 May with 66 passengers and crew on board
  • Some surface debris was found 290km (180 miles) north of the Egyptian city of Alexandria
  • Wreckage was subsequently found in several locations at a depth of about 3,000m (6,800ft) 
  • Signals from the plane indicated that smoke was detected in the toilet and in the avionics area below the cockpit
  • Aircraft made a 90-degree left turn followed by a 360-degree turn to the right before vanishing off radar
  • BBC

April 13, 2016

Gay Air France Flight Attendants Refuse to Fly to Iran (Iran executes gays)

Image result for airfrance

These Fly Attendants are not refusing to fly to Iran because they fear death, even though on their overnight stays someone could get entangle in a gay friendship and then who knows; Rather they are making a universal complaint to bring attention how these religious countries do execute gays. If you asked any GOP supporter and many on the opposite side of gay rights in the US,  if gays are being executed today they will say no way. If they only knew Iran. Saudi Arabia and Egypt just to name the worse three we know.  Maybe then they will have a change of mind and maybe recognize that England use to jail gays (in our boomers generation and prior) and in the US you will be left without a job, apartment or house and will probably be executed by fellow citizens, which they still do today.               Adam
Air France flight attendants or hostesses or Stewards as they are still called in France, didn’t want to wear veils when getting off the plane in Iran, now gay stewards don’t want to go to a country where homosexuals could face the death penalty.

 A steward from Air France has launched an online appeal against gay cabin members having to travel to Iran. It's titled: "Gay stewards from Air France don't want to fly to the death penalty in Iran". 
"Sure, our sexuality isn't written on our passports and it doesn't change the way we work as a crew," wrote 'Laurent M' in an open letter to the French government and the CEO of Air France Frédéric Gagey.
"But it is inconceivable to force someone to go to a country where his kind are condemned for who they are."
The letter points out that homosexuality in Iran is illegal and comes with a penalty of 74 lashes for a minor, while adults can be given the death penalty. 
A petition on site which calls for gay stewards not to work on the soon to re-open Paris to Tehran route has gained almost 2,000 signatures in the past few days. 
The letter comes just one week after Air France hostesses and female pilots refused to fly on the Paris to Tehran route because they didn't want to be forced to wear a veil and loose trousers. 
The airline eventually found a compromise with unions after the story gained international media attention. In the end, Air France accepted that stewardesses could refuse to work on the Tehran route without facing punishment.
Air France suspended flights to Iran in 2008 but is resuming the service next week after international sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear programme were lifted.
The company pointed out that the same headscarf rule was already in place when flying to certain destinations, such as Saudi Arabia, a country which also has the death penalty for anyone caught carrying out homosexual acts.
It remains unknown what effect the new petition will have, not least because it doesn't have the same backing from the Unac union, which was heavily involved in the fight of the stewardesses.
A spokesperson from the union told the Metro newspaper that the notion of Air France staff avoiding flights to Tehran "has been tackled for the entire aircrew, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation". 
The paper noted, however, that Air France management has so far only allowed the choice to refuse journeys to Iran to hostesses, and not stewards.

Origen of problems with Air France and the bending of our customs for theirs:

Air France recently notified its female flight attendants that they must wear company headscarves in Iran upon disembarking the plane at the end of the Paris-Tehran route. After employees complained to their union, Air France officials said on Monday female flight attendants will be allowed to opt out of the route and request a reassignment if they object to covering their hair in the Islamic nation.

In light of the airline’s plan to resume service to Tehran on April 17 after an eight-year suspension on political grounds, officials sent a memo to female staff about the route’s dress code, which includes pants and loose-fitting clothing in addition to the headscarf they must don when they step off the plane in Tehran. Flight attendants are usually able to choose between a skirt and pants when it comes to uniform dress, but the Tehran flight dress code predates the current conflict; it was codified Air France policy when the route was suspended in 2008. Before Air France yielded to its employees' demands by allowing them to opt out of working the Tehran flights, a union representative for the flight attendants said they were fine with wearing headscarves during their off-work time in Iran, but balked at the idea of being forced to wear them as part of their uniform.

This collision of religion, dress and employment is an interesting case study of what happens when a country with some of the world’s most hostile laws against Islamic traditions tries to do business in a country with some of the world’s most stringent Islamic laws. In France, it is illegal for women to wear religious headscarves at school and work, and face coverings like burqas and niqabs are banned in all public spaces. Meanwhile, since the Islamic Revolution, Iranian law has required that all women cover their legs to their ankles and cover their hair with a scarf. In most places, a loose head covering with the hairline and tendrils exposed is fine, and a law that would have beefed up enforcement of women’s dress codes was deemed unconstitutional last year. Still, even for foreign visitors, walking around in Iran without a head covering could be grounds for arrest, a steep fine, or a stern talking-to from Iranian police.

According to AFP, Air France said its employees are “obliged like other foreign visitors to respect the laws of the countries to which they travelled.” In Saudi Arabia, for instance, the same headscarf rule applies for all flight attendants, who must also wear legally mandated abayas, which are long, loose robes that stretch from neck to ankle. (The Economist reports that the Saudi law requiring headscarves is not enforced for foreign women. Air France still requires them for its employees.)

No company based in a secular democracy should force its employees to work in a place that legally requires them to wear clothing that runs counter to their religious, cultural, or social practices. Air France was right to offer its female flight attendants the right to refuse a Tehran assignment. But employers often set guidelines for what their employees cannot do while representing the company in uniform. “Disobeying the law” is usually one of them. Six young Iranians who made a parody of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” video were recently sentenced to 91 lashes and a year in prison for failing to wear headscarves and for dancing with members of the opposite sex, and Iran is not known for its kind treatment of foreign prisoners, nor for any measure of due process or leniency. Giving employees headscarves to wear while in uniform will keep the company from flouting Iranian law without imposing any extra financial obligation on its workers.

Now that the dispute between Air France and its female flight attendants has been settled, French lawmakers should take note of its implications. In the days after Air France announced its Tehran dress code, one flight attendant’s union contacted France’s minister for women’s rights and families, Laurence Rossignol, seeking support for their protest of the headscarf policy. Rossignol recently likened Muslim women who wear headscarves or veils to “American negroes who were in favor of slavery.” If she and other women’s rights advocates are so repelled by the idea of non-Muslim French women being forced to don a headscarf in an Islamic nation, they’d be wise to imagine how Muslim women feel when France forces them to take theirs off.

Christina Cauterucci @portmantina

February 5, 2016

One Passenger Missing and a Gapping hole on the PlaneWhere Passenger Sat

There is one passenger missing and I believe is the same passenger who most’ve had an 
explosive device with him. I think is a matter of time wether we find out wether it was 
a bomb or an electronic device which could have exploded accidentally.  The following report was originally posted at  and  AFP

One passenger is missing after a blast on a commercial airliner that ripped a hole in its fuselage shortly after take-off from Somalia's capital, the airline said Thursday.
"All passengers except one disembarked safely after aircraft landed at the airport," Daallo Airlines said in a statement. "Investigations are underway to ascertain the cause of one missing passenger."
Aviation experts and the pilot who landed the plane safely in Mogadishu after the explosion on Tuesday have said they fear the blast was a bomb. There has been no official confirmation of the cause of the explosion.
In this Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 photo, a hole is photographed in a plane operated by Daallo Airlines as it sits on the runway of the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia. A gaping hole in the commercial airliner forced it to make an emergency landing at Mogadishu's international airport late Tuesday, officials and witnesses said. AP Photo© AP Photo In this Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 photo, a hole is photographed  It was not clear if the missing passenger had been on the plane and was potentially blown up in the blast -- or sucked out through the ragged hole ripped in the metal -- or if there was some miscounting with the list of those on board.
Photographs showed a large hole -- about a metre in diameter -- just above the engines on the right wing, with streaks of soot on the plane.
"Two passengers have been reported to have suffered minor injuries and they were taken to the hospital for treatment," Daallo added.
The airline operates flights across Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa and Gulf region.
Somalia's government has said the blast was believed to be caused by a problem with the air pressure.
"The flight was approximately 15 minutes in the air when the incident happened which caused a hole in the fuselage," Daallo added.
The airline said the "incident is currently being investigated" by the Civil Aviation Authority in Mogadishu, as well as a technical team from the aircraft's owners.
The Serbian pilot has said he thought the blast, which ripped the fuselage from inside to out, had been an explosive device, according to reports in the Serbian newspaper Blic on Wednesday. 
Pilot Vladimir Vodopivec, 64, told a friend he thought it was "a bomb", without giving more details.
Vodopivec added that the blast did not damage the navigation systems, and while cabin pressure was lost, he was able to guide the plane back safely to land at Mogadishu airport.
Aviation safety expert Xavier Tytelman said Wednesday he had compared images of the blast with photographs of previous explosions, and it had all the appearances of a bomb.
It was not caused by any issue of pressurisation, he said, for the blast ripped the metal outwards.
Explosion on a Somalia airliner: Graphic showing the flight of commerical airliner that landed safely back at the Somali capital Mogadishu after an explosion on board© Provided by AFP 

November 18, 2015

Confirmation a Bomb brought down Russian Airliner: Putting Besides Himself (Furious)


Egyptian authorities have detained two employees of Sharm al-Sheikh airport for questioning in connection with the downing of the Russian jet, two security officials and an airport employee said on Tuesday
Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin
President Vladimir Putin vowed to hunt down those responsible for blowing up a Russian airliner over Egypt and intensify air strikes against Islamists in Syria, after the Kremlin concluded a bomb had destroyed the plane last month, killing 224 people.

"We will find them anywhere on the planet and punish them," Putin said at a sombre Kremlin meeting broadcast on Tuesday. The FSB security service swiftly announced a $50 million bounty on the bombers. Until now, Russia had played down assertions from Western countries that the Oct. 31 crash was the work of terrorists, saying it was important to let the official investigation run its course. But four days after Islamist gunmen and bombers killed at least 129 people in Paris, Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the FSB, told a late night meeting that traces of foreign-made explosive had been found on fragments of the downed plane and on passengers' personal belongings.

"According to an analysis by our specialists, a homemade bomb containing up to 1 kilogram of TNT detonated during the flight, causing the plane to break up in mid air, which explains why parts of the fuselage were spread over such a large distance," said Bortnikov at the meeting in footage released by the Kremlin. "We can unequivocally say it was a terrorist act," he said.

Egyptian authorities have detained two employees of Sharm al-Sheikh airport for questioning in connection with the downing of the Russian jet, two security officials and an airport employee said on Tuesday. "Seventeen people are being held, two of them are suspected of helping whoever planted the bomb on the plane at Sharm al-Sheikh airport," said one of the security officials who both declined to be named.

The Airbus A321, operated by Metrojet, had been returning Russian holiday makers from Sharm al-Sheikh in Egypt to St Petersburg when it broke up over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all on board. A group affiliated with Islamic State claimed responsibility, but until Tuesday Russia had said terrorism was just one possible scenario.


Putin, wearing a dark suit, presided over a minute of silence in memory of the victims at the Kremlin meeting, before telling security and military chiefs the incident was one of the bloodiest crimes in modern Russian history and ordering the air force to intensify its air strikes in Syria in response.

"Our air force's military work in Syria must not simply be continued," he said. "It must be intensified in such a way that the criminals understand that retribution is inevitable."
Putin said he expected military chiefs to present him with specific proposals on how Russia could ramp up its campaign. His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Putin was expected to visit the defence ministry later on Tuesday.

A senior French government source said Russia had already launched air strikes against the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria on Tuesday, a sign, the source said, that Russia was becoming more concerned about the threat posed by IS.Russia began air strikes in Syria at the end of September. It has always said its main target is Islamic State, but most of its bombs in the past hit territory held by other groups opposed to its ally, President Bashar al-Assad.

Putin, in language reminiscent of how he talked about Chechen militants during a war when he came to power 15 years ago, ordered the secret services to hunt down those responsible.

"We must do this without any statute of limitations and we must find out all their names," he said, invoking Russia's right to self defence under the United Nations charter. “Anyone who tries to help the criminals should know that the consequences for trying to shelter them will lie completely on their shoulders." 

Source DNA India

November 12, 2015

What Would Putting Do? If the Verdict comes in ”Bomb on Plane”


Mounting evidence that an onboard bomb brought down the Russian jet that crashed on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing 224 people, poses a tough new dilemma for President Vladimir Putin: how to respond. If the theory of a terrorist attack is borne out, it will look like exactly what Islamic State militants have said it was: swift and deadly retaliation for Russia's military operation in Syria.

There are several paths the Kremlin could take, but each has potential pitfalls and none is guaranteed to ward off the problems the crash could create for Putin at home and abroad. Here's how Russia might react:


Until and unless there is powerful proof the crash of Kogalymavia/Metrojet Flight 9268 was caused by a bomb carried on board or stowed in the baggage hold, Russia will be tempted to drag its feet on acknowledging that possibility. A technical cause would be embarrassing for Putin, too, but less so than a terror attack because plane crashes caused by mechanical failure or pilot error are an all-too-familiar phenomenon since the 1991 Soviet collapse, and few Russians would blame Putin personally for the tragedy.

Terrorists have brought down Russian planes before: In 2004, days before militants attacked a school in the North Caucasus town of Beslan, two women from Daghestan boarded separate domestic flights and blew them up in quick succession on a single night, killing all 89 people aboard. But the Airbus jet that broke apart high over the Sinai was outside Russia, headed from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, Putin's hometown. The death toll -- all 224 people aboard -- was the highest in the history of Russian and Soviet aviation.

The idea that such flights are vulnerable further undermines a crucial element of the unwritten contract Putin has forged with middle-class Russians in more than 15 years in power: Fall in line politically and you will enjoy perks that were far out of reach for your parents -- like beach vacations abroad. And all but the most slow-witted slaves to Kremlin propaganda might wonder about the value of Putin's pledges to protect compatriots worldwide -- a group that was the subject of a high-profile meeting in Moscow on November 5 -- if they see Britain and other countries cancelling Sinai flights and Russia making no changes.

The main problem with denial is that it can only work if it is plausible. As evidence of a possible bombing has mounted, both Russian and Egyptian officials have warned loudly against rushing to judgment. Putin made no mention of a possible cause when he broke two days of silence on November 2 and described the crash as an "enormous tragedy." Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on November 5 that talk of a bomb on board was "speculation," and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said it was too early to draw any conclusions about the cause.

Blame Egypt

Russian officials have decades of experience with the blame game, and pointing the finger at Egypt might seem like an obvious course. In its efforts to deflect accusations of involvement in the missile strike that brought down a Malaysian jet in eastern Ukraine last year, killing 298 people, one of Moscow's arguments is that Kyiv is ultimately to blame because it did not entirely close the airspace over the zone where Russia-backed separatists were battling government forces.

But blaming Egypt would fit badly into Russia's new power politics in the Middle East. Putin has assiduously courted the country, long a much closer partner of the United States, and even endorsed President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before his election in 2014. Also, Kremlin criticism of Egyptian security measures might make Russians wonder why their government never raised the issue before, as hundreds of thousands of them flew in and out of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, another Egyptian resort, for vacations in recent years.

Blame The West

The tried-and-true approach for Putin, particularly in his third term. He has blamed the United States for street protests that shook the Kremlin in 2011-12 and accused Washington of giving direct backing to militants in Russia's North Caucasus. It would be a stretch to lay the blame for the Sinai crash squarely on the West, but it seems likely the Kremlin will point the finger as much as it can. Jabs at the West may fit into the Russian narrative that holds that U.S. and European actions in the Middle East have facilitated the rise of the Islamic State (IS) group.

Since Putin launched the campaign of air strikes in Syria on September 30, officials in Moscow have lashed out angrily at Western political and military leaders who have warned that the intervention could lead to Russian casualties or other painful consequences in short order. Faced with evidence that a bomb brought down the jet -- and with alleged statements from militants saying that the victims were "crusaders" punished "in response to Russian air strikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land" -- officials in Moscow might go so far as to claim that such statements have encouraged IS to attack Russians.

Already, the head of the International Relations Committee in Russia's upper house of parliament has claimed that Britain's decision to suspend all flights to Sharm el-Sheikh -- a response to concerns that the Russian plane was bombed -- was motivated by London's opposition to Moscow's actions in Syria. "There is geopolitical opposition to the actions of Russia in Syria," state-run Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted the lawmaker, Konstantin Kosachyov, as saying on November 5.

Hours later, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova lashed out at Britain over the move, accusing its government of failing to share intelligence about the plane crash. While such a statement will not hold water among Western officials, it could work with a domestic audience -- and dovetails with Russian calls for the United States to share more information about IS fighters and other militants in Syria.

Embrace And Employ

Proof that IS-allied militants brought down an airliner full of Russian vacationers a month after Moscow launched air strikes in Syria would be a heavy blow for Putin. But if he is forced to accept that it was a bomb attack, he will seek to soften the impact and use the tragedy to further his agenda at home, in the Middle East, and in relations with the West.

Domestically, Putin could see the crash as a chance to flesh out his portrayal of Russia as a defiant nation that must be unified in the face of threats from outside, whether they come from the West or from IS. Putin provided a glimpse of that response on November 3 in Daghestan, a Russian region plagued by the country's own Islamist insurgency: Without mentioning the plane crash, he said that "nobody has ever been able to frighten...the Russian people" and called any efforts to do so "hopeless."

Abroad, as he did when Al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, Putin might use the tragedy to bolster his case that Russia and the West face a common foe and must work together -- on Moscow's terms -- to defeat it. In the Kremlin's eyes, that means that the United States, Europe, and Gulf Arab states must drop their criticism of the Russian campaign in Syria and accept Moscow -- and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government -- as allies in the fight against IS.

On a simpler level, Putin could use the incident to counter Western accusations that Russian air strikes are not targeting IS, portraying such an attack as proof that the militant group sees Russia as major adversary on par with others it has called "crusaders."

But this is a double-edged sword: Depicting his country as a strong, defiant state under attack from IS raises the pressure on Putin to go after IS more aggressively in Syria rather than pursue the more modest goal of shoring up Assad and positioning Russia to maintain influence in the event of a political settlement of the civil war. That, in turn, could mean getting more deeply involved in the conflict -- a costly endeavor that could hurt Putin's popularity at home if Moscow's biggest military operation outside the former Soviet Union since that country's demise goes awry.

There are signs Russia could be headed in this direction. A few days before Russia began its bombing campaign in Syria, Putin told a U.S. television interviewer that he would not deploy combat troops in Syria, but then he added, "at least, we do not plan on it for now." And Victoria Nuland, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told Congress on November 4: “Now Russia is fielding its own artillery and other ground assets around [the Syrian cities of] Hama and Homs, greatly increasing their soldiers' vulnerability to counterattack."

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