“The Russian estimate about Syria was wrong from the beginning but the military convinced Putin that it would be a very quick operation.” former Kremlin adviser Alexander Nekrassov said.
Russia stormed back into the Middle East in 2015 riding a proverbial high-horse to the rescue of Bashar al-Assad’s then-crumbling regime in Syria. More than three years later, Moscow’s predicament perhaps is better depicted by the circus-like image of a Russian Bear pedaling a tricycle while juggling the competing interests of countries whose apparent irreconcilability accounts for the absence of order now desperately being sought.
“The Russian estimate about Syria was wrong from the beginning but the military convinced [President Vladimir] Putin that it would be a very quick operation. This is a multi-sided conflict with complex and unpredictable developments and Moscow was bound to get bogged down,” former Kremlin adviser Alexander Nekrassov told The Media Line.
“The whole adventure was surprising given that Putin has a much bigger problem—ten times larger—in Ukraine. The Russian army should have learned from its wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya that the type of enemy it’s fighting in Syria cannot be totally defeated. Presently, there is no coherent plan other than to respond to incidents and try to save face despite the disastrous situation.”
The intricacy of Russia’s conundrum—that is, seemingly impossible balancing act—was evidenced last week by the intersection of events involving all major players in Syria. The cascade began Sunday when Iran’s Quds Force responded to a rare Israeli day-time strike in and around Damascus by firing a powerful missile towards the Mount Hermon ski resort. While intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, the Israel Defense Forces, in turn, launched a significant cross-border operation, reportedly destroying more than three dozen targets and killing up to 12 Iranians in the process.