The port of Oktyabrsk is situated on the left bank of the Bug River, 58 km. north of the entry to the Black Sea. Close to the city of Nikolayev, this anonymous Ukrainian port could not seem further from the strife-torn Middle East.
Yet in the last year, Oktyabrsk has played a key role in the international structure that enables the survival of the Assad dictatorship in Syria. It is the main point from which ships bearing the Russian arms that underwrite the Assad regimeís survival set off undisturbed on their journey to the Syrian coast.
If Syria constitutes, as some believe, the central linchpin to understanding events in the Middle East, then the signs are not positive. The Western preference for disengagement from the Mideast mess is not being mirrored by non-Western powers. Rather, as the determined and efficient arms line to Assad shows, Moscowís Syria policy combines clear goals with a brutal effectiveness in their pursuit.
sources in Moscow say the event has consequently cast a dark shadow over relations between the Obama administration and Vladimir Putin at the outset of his third term as Russian president.
This week, Putin pointedly declined to attend the G-8 summit of world leaders meeting next week at the US presidential retreat of Camp David. He decided to send Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev over in his place.
Arab World: Assad
DEBKAfile, Political Analysis, Espionage, Terrorism, Security