One Year On – Putting Russia’s Syria Campaign into Perspective

At the end of September 2015, Russia stepped to the fore as an openly intervening power in Syria. Since then, pro-Assad forces have reestablished a firm military foothold, recaptured vast swaths of land, and safeguarded what is now a largely uncontested Alawite sphere of influence along the Mediterranean governorates of Latakia and Tartus, extending further south along the Syrian-Lebanese border to the capital, Damascus. 

Probably the most striking characteristic of Russia’s military involvement stems from the heedlessness of its conduct: Moscow’s fast-paced, unpredictable, and agile diplomatic moves have provided room for maneuver for its military to create facts on the ground while leaving pundits and nation-states puzzled about the Kremlin’s long-term ends.