Russian Passenger Plane Carrying Military Choir Crashes En Route to Syria

The apparent disappearance of a Russian Tupolev Tu-154 passenger plane soon after take off from the Black Sea port of Sochi on Christmas morning was followed by a report on the Russian news channel RT that hull fragments had been found in water 50-70m deep about 1.5km off the coast, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The plane’s disappearance, which took place at about 2.40am GMT with some 84 passenger and eight crew members aboard, has since been attributed to possible mechanical failure according to Reuters, whose dissemination of a report by Russia’s RIA news agency was subsequently quoted on the Guardian website in the UK not long after RT’s initial report.

The disappearance of the plane is likely to cause major consternation and a possible lowering of morale among Russian troops stationed in Syria as most of those on board were members of the world-renowned Alexandrov Ensemble army choir according to RT. The report in the Guardian quoted the Russian Defence Ministry as saying that they were due to give a celebratory New Year concert to Russian military personnel following the recent fall of Aleppo to Russian backed forces loyal to Syrian President Assad. An Associated Press news article which appeared in the Washington Post also claimed that nine members of the Russian media, including tv journalists from Channel One, were also among those still missing presumed dead. The same report also claimed that the aircraft was en route to the Hemeimeem air base in the province of Latakia on the Mediterranean coast, although other sources have been less clear about exactly where it was expected to land.

According to RT there have been 39 fatal incidents to date involving the Tupolev Tu-154, which has been generally described as ‘a three-engine medium-range narrow-body airliner’ based on a design originating in the mid-1960s. As well as being the principal carrier of the old Soviet airline Aeroflot, the plane was widely exported to a number of previously Soviet aligned countries. Its extensive and largely successful use as head-of-state transport by a number of those countries was perhaps overshadowed however by the fatal crash in thick fog back in 2010 of a Polish Tu-154M carrying the nation’s President Lech Kaczynski.

The death of President Lech Kaczynski and ninety-five others in April of that year was at the centre of extensive allegations of a Kremlin hatched conspiracy. So, it was perhaps unsurprising that earlier this year Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the late President’s twin brother, announced the launching of a new enquiry into the affair, following his own election to the Presidency as head of the staunchly conservative Law and Justice Party back in 2015. Combine this with the recent announcement by RT and a number of other news agencies that the Swedish government has notified its municipal authorities to prepare its civil defense infrastructure for a possible armed conflict, and the entire region appears to moving towards some sort of military stand-off.

Earlier in the month the True Activist website announced the imminent deployment of some 4,000 US troops to a number of key areas bordering the Russian Federation early next year, in breach of the Russia-NATO Founding Act of 1997. The Act, which is currently displayed on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization website, clearly states that NATO is unequivocally committed to building ‘a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area on the principles of democracy and cooperative security’. Elsewhere on the same page it is likewise clearly stated that ‘NATO and Russia will work together to contribute to the establishment in Europe of common and comprehensive security based on the allegiance to shared values, commitments and norms of behaviour in the interests of all states.’ The recent dispatch of an American battalion to an area close to the Polish border with the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, and the imminent arrival at nearby locations of other units currently in the Netherlands, appears to directly contradict official policy in the region for reasons which, according to True Activist, are linked to a $3.4 billion new spending plan authorized by the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

These developments come hot on the heels of the initiation of a new nuclear arms race with a so far unnamed military adversary, whether China or Russia is at present unclear, recently reported by the Gizmodo website in Australia. The original story, which broke on the US MSNBC current affairs slot ‘Morning Joe’ on Friday 23rd December, involved an allegation by MSNBC show host Mika Brzezinski that President Elect Donald Trump ‘is embracing a literal arms race with an unnamed adversary that would increase nuclear weapons at a time when America’s most dangerous adversaries are non-state actors who can’t be fought with nuclear weapons.’

The same day a commentary on the website of the Global Research Centre for Research on Globalization boldly asked ‘Were “CIA Dirty Hands” Behind Assassination of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey?’ The article, written by the Chicago based author, journalist and writer Stephen Lendman, whose groundbreaking work on the current situation in the Ukraine has predicted the possible onset of World War Three, stated that the shooting ‘has the earmarks of a CIA plot to undermine growing Russian/Turkish ties, notably their cooperation in Syria, adversely affecting Washington’s regional imperial agenda.’ In view of this the disappearance of the Tupolev Tu-154 may well turn out to be more than just a routine plane crash involving mechanical failure as we have previously been led to believe.

Rupert Ferguson
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Rupert Ferguson

Journalist at Distract The Media
Rupert Ferguson is a published author, journalist and radical film maker with specialist interests in local government, politics, environmental issues and Traditional English and Scottish Folk Music. His academic work has been endorsed by the likes of Sir Melvyn Bragg, the late Sir James Watt KBE and the former head of Humanities at Bingley College in Yorkshire, England; James Reed.

Having begun his career as a junior researcher at Thames Television in London, he has written for a wide range of publications including 'The Brighton Reporter', 'Durham Town and Country', 'The Brighton and Hove People' and 'The New Celtic Review'. As an exhibited film maker he has been a regular contributor and award nominee at the Portobello Film Festival in London; and has seen his work shown at the annual London Film Makers' Convention at the prestigious Round House Theatre.

As well as receiving enthusiastic reviews from BBC Radio 4 and others for his book on Sir Walter Scott, his pioneering work as an Underground Film Maker on the fledgeling Goa Trance Scene has set him in a field of his own amongst many of his contemporaries; both in the UK, where he presently resides, and elsewhere. Current projects presently in hand include a book centred on his 'Legendary London' series of documentary films, which have stimulated an enthusiastic response from the likes of Glenda Jackson and others; and a novel set in France and Edinburgh during the eighteenth century Scottish Enlightenment.

For more about Rupert, his endorsements and points of contact please follow the link to his linked-in profile:
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