Russia's Role in the Syrian War – Domestic Drivers and Regional Implications

Putin Syria Soldiers

Russia's Role in the Syrian War – Domestic Drivers and Regional Implications

Hanna Notte
St Antony's College, University of Oxford

Over the past year, Russia has become an increasingly pivotal player in the Syrian war and, by extension, in the broader Middle East. Its military intervention since September 2015, its recent assistance of the Assad regime in retaking Aleppo and its subsequent forging of a Syria-wide ceasefire with Ankara have made significant impacts on the ground and marginalized the US’ role in the conflict. Russia’s close cooperation with Iran and rapprochement with Turkey and Egypt will continue to redraw the lines of influence, not just in Syria but the region writ large. Amidst the noise Russia’s impact in Syria has caused, the underlying drivers of its strategy – domestic, security and ideological – remain too often ignored. As a result, Russian decisions regarding Syria routinely catch observers by surprise and have perpetuated the idea that Russian actions are unpredictable at best, and irrational at worst. Yet, while Russian foreign policy analysis is bedeviled by a real lack of transparency into the who and how of specific decision-making, arguably, Russia’s fundamental interests in Syria have been remarkably consistent over the past six years. Its policies, in turn, have been logical in light of these interests. Understanding these requires analytically embedding Russia’s Syria policy in a broader context, assessing it through the prisms of Russia’s perspective on the post-‘Arab Spring’Middle East, its own historical experience in the Chechen Wars, its fears about so-called ‘color revolutions’ in post-Soviet countries, and its relationship with the West...

To read the pull piece, visit: http://www.kas.de/syrien-irak/en/publications/47817/