In a world of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act, George Orwell

Indignez-vous ! Stéphane Hessel

“Le courage c’est de chercher la vérité et de la dire ; c’est de ne pas subir la loi du mensonge triomphant qui passe, et de ne pas faire écho, de notre âme, de notre bouche et de nos mains aux applaudissements imbéciles et aux huées fanatiques ”.” – Djordje Kuzmanovic

dimanche 6 décembre 2015

Blog Post: Turkish head spinning antics

Head spinning madness on the Turkish frontier

Update on Turkey’s intransigence and duplicitous understanding of sovereignty over this weekend: this time, Turkish troops have gone into Northern Iraq.

Turkey will have a permanent military base in the Bashiqa region of Mosul as the Turkish forces in the region training the Peshmerga forces have been reinforced, Hürriyet reported.
The deal regarding the base was signed between Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu, during the latter’s visit to northern Iraq on Nov. 4.

Although it appears that the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi isn’t in the loop on this deployment:“We did not ask any country to send foreign ground troops, and we will treat any sent as a hostile act.”  The Iraqi authorities called on Turkey to withdraw immediately from Iraqi territory:

Back to the Hurriyet Daily News article:

“For more than two years, Turkey has had a group of soldiers in Bashiqa, located 32 kilometers north of Mosul, which is under Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) control. The soldiers have been training the Peshmerga forces and other anti-ISIL groups.”

In other reports, the Turkish are said to be training a Sunni volunteer group called Hashd al-Wataniya.  A figure of 2200 Turkish troops, along with tanks have been quoted in the media. The Fars news agency also reports that Turkey is building an airfield in Northen Irak, named 'Bamerne', in Dahuk.

Judging by the flurry of diplomatic  activity,  clearly Baghdad didn’t approve the operation in the first place . It was just signed by the KRG President Massoud Barzani, who just happens to be in bed with the Turkish elites, & actively participating in the Kurdish oil trade & smuggling routes into southern Turkey.  So are the Turkish troops there covering Barzani’s back?

But what the heck is going on here? There seems to more to it than at first glance.  There is this snippet of news on the RT website:

"While Russia is a major supplier of oil and gas for Turkey, Ankara may find another seller, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech. Turkey seeks to secure deliveries from Qatar and Azerbaijan amid escalated tensions with Russia over its downing of a Russian warplane over Syria. Russia slapped economic sanctions against Turkey in retaliation, but continues to supply fuel according to existing contracts with Turkey.”

Notice the words: “Turkey seeks to secure deliveries from Qatar…”  Join this up with Erdogan's  shot across Russia’s bow back in October,  he said “Turkey may replace Russia as fuel supplier".  Add in the potential gas pipeline project, which reveals an extra layer in Turkey's latest activities:
“- A pipeline that will start from Qatar and reach the European Union through Iraq and Turkey will truly ensure  the diversification of sources and routes and thus contribute to the supply security.”


Predictably it is linked to the ongoing spat with Russia that’s deepening by the week.  Russia is probably wondering what to do, if it is possible to help in the region.   Assistance may be potentially provided to the Marxist Kurdistan Workers' Party, (PKK), who are competing for power currently held by the KRG. This would be the equivalent of stepping into quicksand, since it could possibly trigger a serious armed struggle, which would only benefit ISIS and Turkey. It is truly complex. The PKK is loathed by the Turkish government and in the summer it attacked the vital pipeline that runs from Iraq to Ceyhan, causing some major financial losses to both the Turks & KRG.

Predictably there is another twist to this tale: oil extraction.  It is very convenient for the Turkish military group in Northern Iraq to be located right within the oil triangle.  In 2012, Turkey joined in with the KRG to sign an agreement on oil exploratory work. Even Exxon did some preliminary seismic work in the area then, including the Bashiqa area.  This is what Erdogan had to say about the partnership a year later: "Our oil company already has an agreement with Exxon Mobil in place ... This is a step with the KRG on exploration work,"

So effectively, Turkey had said to Baghdad, "move over,here in the north, we'll take charge from now on".  Surprisingly, this fits in with the date of the first deployment of Turkish in Northern Irak.

To recap on the present state of madness: head chopping brutal ISIS steal oil from Damascus & Baghdad’s territory; sell it off through middlemen that include some Kurds, who then sell it to Turkey.   The Kurds & the Turks are supposedly fighting ISIS.  The Western media image of the valiant Kurdish fighter has been sorely abused by the political elites running their off-the-books oil business with the enemy.  It is very convoluted & extremely messy.

Another intriguing gem, is the fact that the Turkish elites have regularly brandished  neo-Ottoman rhetoric.  It is no secret that the Turkish government would like to get back places such as Aleppo and Mosul. Straight from the horse’s mouth:

The border is wrong. The Mosul Province was within the Ottoman Empire's territory. Had that place been a part of Turkey, none of the problems we are confronted with at the present time would have existed.” 
President Demirel in 1995

Giora Eiland in an Guardian article mentioned meeting a senior Turkish official some years ago and  the official said , “but do not make the mistake of thinking that the borders that were dictated to us at the end of the first world war by the victorious countries – mainly the UK and France – are acceptable to us. Turkey will find a way to return to its natural borders in the south – the line between Mosul in Iraq and Homs in Syria. That is our natural aspiration and it is justified because of the large Turkmen presence in that region.”

Turkmen did you say?  Wouldn't that be those not so nice chappies that shot up a parachuting Russian pilot?  Turkey 

Other linked information on Turkey:

Is your head spinning yet?

jeudi 3 décembre 2015

Blog repost: Syria looting and Turkish connections


This week's revelations made by Moscow concerning the illegal oil trade between Turkey and the Islamic State overshadows another shady aspect of the Syrian conflict, namely pillage of industrial machinery and parts on a massive scale in the Aleppo region.
More information on the Turkish connection with the military style pillaging & asset-stripping of Syria:

“According to French geopolitical analyst, Thierry Meyssan, Recep Erdoğan “organised the pillage of Syria, dismantled all the factories in Aleppo, the economic capital, and stole the machine-tools.”
Half of the non-operational facilities were dismantled and taken to Turkey. We don’t know who plundered it, but Turkey is the responsible party. This is why the Aleppo Chamber of Industry and Commerce is taking the issue to international courts."

The article contains a video of the looted machinery:

The article briefly mentions the issue of electricity and water supplies in Aleppo.  It should be noted that the US previously bombed an Aleppo power station, and more recently bombed a water pumping station. In the ongoing war of words, where the US often criticises the Russians for not bombing IS, the fact the the US-led air coalition sees fits to bomb civilian infrastructure is telling.  Even UNICEF could not stay quiet over the latest bombing. 
UNICEF calls for end to attacks on civilian infrastructure after air strike cuts water supplies to Aleppo:

“In Syria, the rules of war, including those meant to protect vital civilian infrastructure, continue to be broken on a daily basis.”
"The air-strike which reportedly hit al-Khafseh water treatment plant in the northern city of Aleppo last Thursday is a particularly alarming example.

 This in the genetic make up of the US & NATO air forces since it is not new,  Iraqi, Libya and Serbian were heavily bombed in order to create unsafe and unhygienic conditions.  


L’Orient le Jour Interview
Translated from the French

My factory was the IS HQ in Aleppo

Farès el-Chehabi, businessman from Aleppo & Sunni, the president of the Chamber of commerce and industry of Syria, relates the devastation caused by four years of war on his city and its surroundings. Since September 2011, he is registered on the list of individuals sanctioned by the European Union, accused of providing economic support to the regime.

What were the consequences of the war on the industrial area of Aleppo ?
Aleppo was the economic capital of Syria. We had over 80 000 factories. More than any city in the Middle East. In 2011, as early as the second month of the war, the destruction and looting began. From the first months, the rebels distributed leaflets demanding the closure of our businesses; otherwise they would be burned down. They sent these threats to all the shops and businesses. Immediately, the people became very afraid. About twenty of my friends, manufacturers, members of the Chamber of commerce, were murdered because they refused to close down their factories. In 2011, the rebels reduced to ashes more than 100 factories.
One of my factories was in Sheikh Najjar, the largest industrial area. The rebels seized in 2011. I was told that it didn’t belong to me anymore and that I didn't have the right to claim it back under threat of reprisals. My factory, which produced olive oil, I thought was in the hands of the Syrian Free Army  (FSA), was in fact the headquarters of the Islamic State (IS). Once retaken back in July 2014, I noted the damage. The walls were painted with the IS flag, there were jihadists clothing, their leaflets…  I noticed that there were almost 500 children in the area who had been deprived of education for two years. So I decided to turn this factory into a free school.
You have accused the Turkish government of being behind the looting of the factories in Aleppo...
Yes. And I have serious proof. I have filed two complaints against the Turkish government, with the courts of Strasbourg and The Hague. I have gathered solid evidence, videos, confessions and witnesses. Many manufacturers called me in a panic telling me that the rebels were in their factory and that there were Turkish experts with them. The armed men do not know the difference between the different production lines of a factory. They do not know how to disassemble the machines without damaging them. This is why the Turkish experts were present, to choose their loot and send it to Gaziantep, Adana... I've received more than 5,000 manufacturers'’ complaints, victims of theft. The loot went to Turkey with the complicity of the Turkish police. It is impossible to move the plant equipment so easily. Some of the machines are 20, 30 meters long. They used trucks, moved over the border crossings, not through olive tree fields. It is organized smuggling. They have gutted the industrial areas of Aleppo. It is a field of ruins.
Today, how is Aleppo organizing its survival?
Over the past nine months, we no longer have the Internet. Since the road Hama-Aleppo has been liberated, everyday life products arrive easily. The water is controlled by al-Nusra (a branch of the Syrian el-Qaeda). The UN declared it a terrorist organization in 2014. The National Syrian Coalition tries to make al-Nusra acceptable, encouraging them to cut theirs ties with el-Qaeda, so that they can join the moderate forces. The Front controls much of the electricity. And the large power plant is under IS control. So we have very, very little electricity in Aleppo. The government negotiates with them. "The terrorists" tell us : "We give  Aleppo 5 % of the electricity and  take the rest. "Which is the equivalent to 5 megawatts for 3 million people. This is not negotiation; it is blackmail for electricity as water (supply). We are waiting for the retaking of the largest power station near to the Kweires airport. Nobody can attack it, because there is a risk of contamination, radiation... We have another power station in Zorba, which should be freed in the next few days.
Did the people of Aleppo living in the government controlled area fear that the regime was going to let them fall?
A lot of people were frustrated in the beginning and furious too, as they felt abandoned. We were not able to defend ourselves against the rebels. We were faced with two choices:  either destroy what remains of Aleppo ourselves and fight, or lay siege to it without destroying the city. And this is the second option that is in progress.
People sell off their old Aleppo houses just to leave. And the most targeted are the Christians and Armenians. Only 10 000 Armenians remain in Aleppo, while they were more than 200 000 before the war. I've visited the patriarchs and priests of all the communities, and all say the same speech: those who attack them are Islamists who want to force them to leave the country. But the Islamists seem to forget that the Christian community in Aleppo is not a visitor. They are the original inhabitants of the city. They were there before the Muslims. And there is hope that one day, Christians will come back.
You criticize the rebels but at the same time, the Syrian government buys the oil from IS...
Already, this oil is not IS’s. It belongs to the Syrians. Therefore, if a group controls my production of wheat, cotton or oil, it is my job to free my factory or to buy the production by all means possible. It belongs to me. Therefore, it is hypocritical to point the finger at the Syrian government's efforts that buys up the oil from IS to give it to its citizens. And furthermore the regime bombs some oil fields.
What do you think of the upcoming elections, decided on in Vienna, which will take place in 18 months ?
We decide who should govern through free elections. We have no problem if these elections are organized by an international organization as long as it is not corrupt.  If you want a president to leave, organize elections. But we do not accept the rebel groups as Jaesh al-islam or others.
Let the so called "moderate" groups participate in the elections. If they win, we will be forced to accept it. It is the law of the ballot.  But no one really wants elections and demanding that the president resigns. Because they know that if Bashar al-Assad participates in them, he will win. It will not be a majority, maybe not 90 %, but 45 % would be enough for him to win. And, for the moment, no one on the opposition side can rally as many votes.

Original link:

mardi 1 décembre 2015

Blog: Turkey, the EU and "European Values"

Turkey, the EU and  "European Values"

⦁    The EU migrant crisis: unfolding drama
⦁    The EU and Turkey: a pandora's box
⦁    Turkey, Syria & IS: keeping not so mum

Some key players in their own words:

The leader of the Liberals group, Guy Verhofstadt from Belgium: “Europe is trying to outsource this refugee crisis, without taking its responsibility to protect those in need. It is positive that the EU will work more closely together with Turkey, but we should not make ourselves dependent on a country which is becoming increasingly authoritarian”.

The leader of the group of the far left, Gabriele Zimmer (Germany), made no exception. "We cannot accept a dirty deal with Turkey. Through our negotiations and our actions we must protect the rights of refugees and call for an immediate end to Erdoğan's war on the Kurdish people."

Hungarian President Viktor Orbán: "We do not want the EU to sit down to negotiate with Turkey, while giving the impression that it is Turkey which will save the EU. One cannot negotiate if the other party thinks that they are their negotiating partner’s last hope”.

Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu's message at NATO headquarter: "No Turkish President, Premier or any other authority will apologise for doing our duty."

The EU is holding on dearly to a strange version of European Values,  similar to what we have seen with the unwavering support for post- Maidan Ukraine.   It is continuing to turn a blind eye to some pretty nasty events taking place both in Ukraine and also Turkey.   Take some examples of the much vaunted & glorified "European Values": media freedoms, minority rights & human rights both for Ukraine & Turkey:

⦁    Journalists are being killed, prosecuted & jailed for presenting a different viewpoint; (Serena Shim & Oles Buzina);
⦁    Civilians have been being targeted and killed, based solely on where they live and what language they speak; (Russian speakers, Donbass & Kurds who make up 18% of the population);
⦁    Established links & support to some unsavoury extremely nasty groups; (Aidar, Azov, IS, Al Nusra).
⦁    Vicious repression of public protest, (Odessa, Mariupol & Gezi Park)

Never mind, just another fact to add into the equation is regarding Cyprus.   The illegal Turkish occupation of North Cyprus continues to this day, without the EU even being a bit concerned about it. Erdogan said back in 2011 "There is no country called Cyprus",

Human tidal flow

The EU is totally impotent in dealing with the ongoing migrant crisis, originating from Turkey. Some 800,000 people have reached Greece from Turkey this year alone.  Instead it adopted a series of 'sweeteners' to Turkey, in the hope that would offset the migrant crisis back closer to their homelands.

⦁    The EU commits to match the funds that Turkey is spending on the over 2.5 million refugees that are in its territory; so it has offered 3bn Euros.
⦁    If Turkey implements successfully the EU  action plan, it would lead to a speeding-up of the process of visa-liberalisation with Turkey.
⦁    Implementation of  the EU action plan would “re-energise" the negotiation process for Turkish EU Accession.

Given that Turkey has claimed that it has spent over 7bn € on migrants,  it is becoming apparent that the EU action plan package is just bribery to hold on 'migrants'.  When the money runs out or there a spat with the EU over something, what will happen next?

The migrants are being used as pawns in a dark and dangerous geopolitical game. There are literally tens of thousands participating in the migrant trafficking route between Turkey & Greece, right under the noses of the Turkish authorities.   They see both the migrants & the EU leadership as easy pickings, weak and feeble, which is the case, judging by a tweet made by Burhan Kuzu, a Presidental advisor to Erdoğan, as reported on 2nd Dec 2015 in the Today's Zaman:

  “The EU finally got Turkey's message and opened its purse strings. What did we say? ‘We'll open our borders and unleash all the Syrian refugees on you,'” Kuzu stated in his controversial tweet.

Not much in the way of a charm offensive, was it? Indeed it is a case of blackmail, pure & simple.

Turkey is quite capable of stopping the migrants flow, it has done so in the past, when it suited it to do so. But since summer 2015, the spigot has been turned on full and a steady stream of migrants have made the journey across the Aegean and up through the Balkan to reach the EU.    Thousands of businesses along the Turkish coastline thrive on the back the smuggling routes by supplying boats & lifejackets & other sundries. Other criminal groups make money on producing fake Syrian ID documents, as highlighted by a Dutch journalist.

The EU isn't willing at all to play hardball with Erdogan, because he holds all of the 'migrant' cards in his hand, along with the cross border support for a range of terrorists groups in Syria. The Turks understand this clearly and twist the EU elite around their little finger. To back the EU into a corner they can quote " European Values" to the nth degree and the EU elites act like doomed sailors enchanted by mermaids.

The hapless EU has not even tried to confront him, to get the Turkish government to stop the boats, dismantle the smuggling gangs.  Surely, "European Values" are a stake here, so the first step would be for Brussels to send a  clear message to Ankara, one of" first sort out the rampant criminality at the root of this and then we can start to talk about 're-energising' EU Accession talks". But no,  the Turks say "cough up and pay what we deserve".

So it wasn't surprising to hear that hours after the EU Turkish talks,  lip-service is being provided by Turkey as it rounded up some 1,300 migrants on Monday.

Not sure how long this action on the part of the Turkish authorities will last though.

The genie is out of the bottle

Brussels is stymied by a complete lack of forceful 'front' on this huge issue.  This is mostly due to one person, Angela Merkel, who unilaterally sent out the 'invites' via the mass media, on behalf of the EU, without any prior or prepared policy or program in place.  Not surprisingly a group of EU countries have recoiled in horror at the way this had been handled and said no to being asked to share Merkel's folly.

Is the EU unwittingly helping the Turkish authorities with a potential land grab of Northern Syria, as well as facilitating ethnic cleansing of Syrians?   This article featuring a headline from a Turkish newspaper should send shivers down the spine of any self-respecting person. It describes how Aleppo should become part of Turkey.  Invariably, both ISIS & the FSA have displaced tens of thousands of Syrians in the region and as a result,  many fled into Turkey as refugees.  Many of them have been lured by migrant 'touts' to leave Turkey for the EU.   The EU is now saddled with a huge influx of Syrians, all due to a very convoluted machinations & political skulduggery.

 IS and the oil angle

Turkey exerts its influence over both ISIS & the 'Turkmen rebels', mostly through the oil smuggling business, as well as military strikes.   It is a huge money spinner for Turkey and ISIS, barely untouched by the US -led airstrikes for well over a year.   Revelations on the extent and scope of the oil trade is only now being published in the mainstream press. See here & here for examples.

Turkey' backing of terror attacks

The EU cannot say that it wasn't aware of the Turkish double standards in combating IS terrorism since credible doubts did surface a while back, especially so, if we take one snapshot: the attacks on Kobane in June 2015, where the Kurds accused Turkey of letting IS fighters move into Kobane via Turkey. Take for example this headline: "Turkey's President Erdogan Denies Helping Islamic State Massacre Civilians in Kobane."

Likewise the well-planned attack on Kessab, in April 2014 on the Syrian-Turkish, bears the hallmarks of Turkish complicity in the take-over and massacre of Christian inhabitants. Moderate & IS terrorists, supported by Turkish gunships & artillery launched an attack from within Turkey.

None of this rang alarm bells in the corridors of power of Brussels.   What does it say about the whole concept of the EU power base?  Flawed, warped & perverted are words that spring to mind. Once more Turkey took advantage of the EU's ineptitude, to carry on if as nothing bad had happened.   The problem is that Russia through Vladimir Putin has shone a bright spotlight on this cosy relationship between IS and Turkey.  Yet the EU bimbles along, disregarding the nastiness and illegal activities taking place.  Stunned, shocked, well you should be. Another huge dose of "European Values" dumped by the wayside. 

No one within the Brussels corridors of power has shown any concern.  The real victims of the Syrian conflict are to be in found in their millions, as IDPs in Syria, or in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan & Turkey.
Many of the ethnic minorities have been unable to get visas to go the West. A Polish journalist, Witold Gadowski, asks this question: “The real victims of the war are in the camps,”

 “Why are the camp survivors pleading unsuccessfully to obtain visas for various European nations and being denied, while the young men are immediately taken in with open arms and presented as refugees?”
-  Because the EU is a ship of fools, lured & trapped into a self-absorbed mindset, unwilling to tackle the core issues at stake.

Link to the SU-24 shooting-down

The Turkish authorities have visibly cast their lot with Sunni terrorists, Mafia & smugglers for some time now, although everyone in the European media & political circles seemed to have hushed it all down.  Now this is being laid bare by Russia, as a result of a reckless and audacious Turkish action of shooting down a Russian military jet. In an apparent decision-making time frame of 5 minutes and with an airspace infringement of only 17 seconds.

This latest event on the Syrian-Turkish border has not deterred the EU leadership in the least from continuing with a "business as usual" philosophy with Turkey. The latest news is  that the EU is giving Turkey 3bn Euros.  You might well say, "but isn't the timing just a little wrong?" Heck, no the EU, like the Titanic carries on in the foggy night, despite the warnings.

Bear in mind, the AKP party of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan only won snap parliamentary elections on November 1st, so it is in a confident position domestically & politically. This week alone the ever defiant tone continues to set by Turkey's leadership, in the wake of the SU-24 ambush:

"The protection of our land borders, our airspace, is not only a right, it is a duty," he said. "We apologize for committing mistakes, not for doing our duty."

"No country should ask us to apologize," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters following a meeting with NATO's secretary general in Brussels. Interesting comments made in an interesting meeting, was it scheduled before the SU-24 shoot-down?  I'd loved to have been a fly on that wall. The timing is intriguing to say the least.  France jumped on the "let's bomb Syria" bandwagon following the Paris attacks, then the UK & Germany decided to join in the illegal military campaign against Syria.  NATO is currently building up air assets in southern Turkey. [See blogpost:]
The big problem is that the Turkish government is losing its nerves & will continue to do while the Russians remain active in Syria.  The Russian air operations have radically changed the balance on the ground, to the detriment of Turkish backed rebel/terrorist groups.  It is a matter of time before some other 'incident' takes place that will impact not on the region, but might badly affect the EU as well.

Blog repost: Airbases - Russian air ops in Syria

Screen shot of televised Russian military briefing on 17 November 2015
5th unit (battery?) of the 120th ABR

While the relations between Ankara and Moscow have deteriorated since the destruction of a Su-24M by the Turkish air force, Russia is accelerating the preparations to put into service a second air base in the Homs region.

According to the Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Rai, Russia is getting ready to open a second airbase in Syria, 35 km south-east of Homs, in Sha’irat.  With the soon to be operational base, the Russian air group deployed in Syria could reach 100 aircraft.

Since the beginning of the month of November, a number of activities by Russian armed forces on this base have been noted. Four attack helicopters Mi-24 and one transport helicopter Mi-8 have been specifically deployed since the 6th November (probably a support group that can serve, if necessary, as a rescue group to recover shot down Russian pilots), while  heavy artillery has been in place since at least since the 20th of November. According to available data on Flightracker, a wave of heavy transport An-24 aircraft have arrived at the airport in order to make it practicable for fighter jets.

The commissioning of this base will allow Russia to focus its airstrikes in the Palmyra region, and beyond, in Deir ez-Zor, both in the hands of the Islamic State.  In this sense, it signifies a shift in the Russian military presence in Syria, which should focus its efforts against IS, the Lattakia base being used probably for operations against the terrorist groups in the Northern part of the country, and against the IS in Raqqa. This also means that the capabilities provided by the airbase near Lattakia are no longer sufficient given the goals of the Russians and the situation on the ground.

The consequences of Russian-Turkish the tug-of-war on the security balance in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black sea

The destruction of a Su-24M by a Turkish fighter on 24th of November, is likely to generate tensions on the naval theatre in the Pontic and the Levant. Russia has severed military contacts with Turkey: there is no longer a military attaché to the Russian embassy in Ankara, and Moscow has suspended its naval cooperation within the framework of the BlackSeaFor taskforce (moribund since 2008, it must be stressed). If the question of the free movement of Russian ships through the Turkish Straits is, fortunately, has not yet been raised, it remains the case that tensions within the Russian and Turkish naval activities in the eastern Mediterranean is palpable. The Russian naval detachment in the Levant is made up of the following vessels (29/11/2015) :

·         the guided-missile cruiser Moskva
·         the frigate Smetlivy
·         the intelligence ship Vasily Tatischev
·         the tanker Ivan Bubnov

·         3 other support vessels, including the oceanographic vessel Admiral Vladimirskiy
In addition, the conventional attack submarine B-237 Rostov-on-Don (Project 0636.3) still does not seem to have joined the Black sea fleet, so it may still pass into the eastern Mediterranean, and contribute to the protection of the Moskva. For its part, Turkey has two submarines on patrol in the Levant (TCG Bolunay and TCG Burakreis). Suffice to say that the Russian naval group would not make the weight in the absolute against the Turkish ships that could get to the area in the event of hostilities. It is not necessary to exclude that the Russian sending into the area f the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, but this would be a negative signal vis-à-vis the development of the situation: the Kuznetsov is primarily a tool to no go & no fly zones & ASW

Pursuant to articles 20 and 21 of the Convention of Montreux (1936), which governs the crossing of the Straits, Ankara can, if felt threatened,  can decide the closure of the Bosphorus and of the Dardanelles, the terms of which crossing would then be left to the sole discretion of Turkish authorities. In the current context of tensions with Russia, this would mean implementing a blockade of the Black sea Russian ports. Turkey could decide to take intermediary measures such as, the inspection of ships civilian chartered by Russia to transport materials to Syria, (some of the vessels have been brought from Turkey...). However, this would be an unprecedented turning point with serious consequences for both the Russians and the Turks, and by extension, for the security of the whole region, from the Balkans to the Caspian Sea. The ships of the Russian Mediterranean squadron would be 'prisoners' in the Mediterranean, and would not able to rely on technical support of the port of Tartus, and to a lesser extent, on Cyprus.

Source : Lenta, Turkish, forums, RIA Novosti...

Note:  Shayrat airfield has dispersed reinforced hangars whereas Lattakia is predominantly composed of civilian infrastructure, not suitable for medium and long term military operations & certainly doesn't offer protection for aircraft or personnel.

Other sources:

" The move could see Russia's air fleet bolstered to over 100 war planes, while 1,000 ground troops are also on their way to Syria". 

Al-Shayrat airbase houses 45 fortified aircraft hangers, Elijah J. Magnier from the newspaper said in the report.

Engineers are building a three kilometre backup runway to cater to the new Russian aircraft.

Russia has around 37 war planes and helicopters at Latakia airbase, including Su-34 war planes. 

 Back in September:

Russian planes redirected

Another pro-rebel outlet reported that a group of Russian planes was seen arriving at an airbase near Homs and noted that the fleet may have been transferred there due to the lack of sufficient fortifications at the Hmeimim airbase.

All4Syria cited a source as saying that the planes had been seen landing at the Shayrat airbase, which lies around 25 km southeast of the central Syrian city.

Although the outlet has not been able to confirm the source’s report, it said the lack of bomb-proof hangars at Hmeimim has forced redeployment of incoming aircraft.

“There is a large operational deployment plan for Russian planes arriving at Hmeimim airbase that includes several airbases,” the outlet claimed.

According to the report, the deployment plan includes Hama airbase, the Dumeir and Nasiriya airbases to the north of Damascus and Bley airbase in Eastern Ghouta.