عنوان مقاله [English]
Russian military deployment in Syria should not be considered as the core goal of Moscow’s diplomacy but its instrument. It is also a serious mistake to present Russian efforts in the country as the result of a game of “chicken” between Moscow and the West. Moscow is playing a different type of game that could be characterized as “geostrategic poker”, where the Assad regime is logically considered Russia’s main stake. This stake allows the Russians to influence the situation on the ground and demonstrate their importance in the international arena by positioning Moscow as one of those players without whom the Syrian question cannot be solved. By increasing military support to the Syrian government the Russian authorities simply strengthened their stake. Now they are starting to reveal their hand. The latest developments also show that Russian stance on Syria is determined by the interplay of the complex factors among which the growing security concerns are of the main importance. The Kremlin is worried that the fall of Assad will inevitably bring radical Islamists to power in Syria. This, in turn, will lead to the further destabilisation of the situation in the Middle East inevitably affecting the Muslim regions of Russia. At the same time, this does not mean that Moscow supports Bashar Assad as a person. On the contrary, the Kremlin accepts the possibility of the post-Assad Syria and Russian contacts with the Syrian opposition also demonstrate that Moscow is open to the dialogue.
By September 2015, on the eve of Russia’s dramatic military moves, the Kremlin feared that Assad’s regime was on the verge of collapse. The assessment was that the existing levels of military, technological, and financial assistance by Russia to the Syrian regime would only prolong its agony and not save it. Moscow could not afford losing its stake in the Middle East. Intervention was based on a choice between a “bad” and a “very bad” scenario: either a costly military operation to support Assad, or doing nothing as his power crumbled. The Russian leadership was also motivated in part by its perception of what had happened in Libya and Iraq, where—in its view—nothing good came of the complete destruction of the old regimes. It did not want to see the same happen to Syria as, from the Kremlin point of view, this would mean the turning of Syria into another regional source of instability and jihadist threat..