Reckless Russia: Putin is Underestimating the Risks of His Actions in Syria
Nearly two months after Russia ramped up its presence in Syria, the complexity of the conflict has grown exponentially. President Vladimir Putin's move in Syria has not stabilized the region. It has not pushed back the waves of violent extremism. It has not provided an easier path to end the fighting or decreased the numbers of refugees pouring out from all sides of the conflict.
Despite Kremlin-fed headlines and high-level messaging from Moscow, Putin's foray in Syria is not about solving the conflict, and fighting the Islamic State group was clearly not a main initial driver. It is about perceived Russian interest and securing its position in the Levant. For the Kremlin, a military intervention best defends Russia's limited ability to project and protect its role in regional politics – both in the post-Soviet space and the Middle East. These tools have become an increasingly critical component of stabilizing Russia's weakening regional positions. And ambiguity and distraction have been key supplements to Moscow's efforts.
This was true in Ukraine; it is true in Syria...