UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria

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If you have been reading my diary here in the last two weeks, you know that I have been closely following events in Syria with special attention lately to what appears to be building Russian support for Assad. First came the reports of refurbished Mi25 attack helicopters heading back to Assad. As I reported this morning, Moscow says a ship with 3 of the choppers on board is already on its way after another Russia cargo ship with choppers for Assad was turned around. Then came the on again, off again, reports of Russian warships and combat troops head for Syria. I have seen in these moves, desperate attempts by Russia to prop up the Assad regime, possibly even to take on a more direct military role.

Now, June 22, 2012, from the horse's month, namely the Moscow Times we have another explanation for the reported preparation of warships and troops for Syria:

Russia Gearing Up to Evacuate Citizens From Syria, Report Says

Russia's military is preparing to evacuate Russian nationals from Syria, including servicemen from the country's naval base at Tartus, media reports said Thursday.

While authorities have not yet issued any concrete orders, plans are being laid in case tensions escalate or outside powers intervene, two sources in the security services told the Vedomosti daily.

The Defense Ministry, Emergency Situations Ministry and other government agencies are involved in the plans, the sources said.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has spoken of the necessity of helping Russian-passport holders abroad before, saying in April that Russia should be ready to aid the roughly 100,000 Russian citizens who live in Syria with their families.

Thursday's reports come after Defense Ministry officials on Tuesday evening refuted CNN claims that the Navy was soon to send ships to the port of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea, where about 100 Russian soldiers and other support staff are based.

I sincerely hope that what the Moscow Times is reporting here is the truth. That is certainly a legitimate reason. Sending a small force to evacuate its citizens from a war zone should be expected from any nation that has the capability.

On the other hand, remembering that truth is the first casualty of war, I hope this is not just another story to cover for what appears to be growing Russian support for the brutal Assad regime.

I want to thank Stephanie Lamy, who played such a significant role in supporting communications during the Libyan Revolution, for sending me this. I have been able to break these stories in such a timely manner because people like her have their ears on the tracks and give me a heads up so I can keep you abreast of these fast moving developments.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE 6:29PM PST: Now we have this report, which was first spotted as a ticker on Russia Today this evening, and now I have tracked down more details, it begs the question: Was a plan to ease Assad out hatched up at the G20 in Mexico?

Syria's Assad reportedly may be offered clemency by Britain and US if he joins peace talks

The Guardian+ reports that Britain and America are willing to offer the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, safe passage – and even clemency – as part of a diplomatic push to convene a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva on political transition in Syria.

The initiative comes after David Cameron and Barack Obama received encouragement from Russia's President Vladimir Putin in separate bilateral talks at the G20 in Mexico.

Considering this news, the announcement by Moscow that its warships and soldiers were part of an evacuation plan could be seen as one more way to pressure Assad into going along with the Great Powers program?

Is it possible that Obama, Cameron and Putin, are now working together to save Syria - for themselves? After all, they may squabble over which great power has the greatest influence over Syria but I don't think any of them want to see Syria go the way the Libyan Revolution has gone where none of the great powers has military bases or a controlling influence over the country's future.

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