Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Russia's Most Syrian Adventure #76: All Done There?

The big news is that Putin has ordered many of the Russian troops out of Syria. There are a couple different stories as to why floating around. There is probably some overlap in reality, but the main driving reason is that Putin feels his mission was a success: Syria, more specifically Assad, will not be falling any time soon. Putin can declare victory and go home.

Other narratives to go with this were that Russia was hurting too much financially to continue and there is some sort of break with Assad. The break is possibly because Assad wanted to retake all of Syria. Russia didn't want to expend more capital it seems (either geopolitical or financial) for this to happen. The ceasefire makes it too dangerous for the narrative for Putin to allow the assault to continue. The finances are well known, but Russia had been using their training budget for operations in Syria. As has been said, in Soviet Russia, wars train for you. The limits of that may have been reached. Russia has even cut its defense budget: something Putin has been loathe to do.

That said, here is the plethora of links for the story at hand.

The Aviationist (with video of what is supposed to be the first aircraft leaving).

Even with the withdrawal, the Russians are still supporting Assad and his attempt to take Palmyra with airstrikes.

The Russians are also accusing Turkey of having ground troops within Syria and conducting artillery strikes on the Kurds. The former is dubious, but the latter is highly likely.

The ceasefire has held, mostly, at least as well as the Ukrainian one.

I can say though Putin will be able to claim a victory.  He got in, did what he said he would to his ally, won a diplomatic coupe and then is withdrawing with minimal blood shed: Russian blood that is.  As far as we can tell.  Those predicting a quagmire were rather wrong.  Those predicting the Russian military breaking down were also wrong.  I was somewhat wrong at least because while there were Russian ground troops, there was not, afaik, major offensives led by the Russians.

It goes to show just how dangerous Putin's Russia is, folks.

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