Russia has deployed large amounts of military equipment to Syria, including fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, and about 2,000 personnel to support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime ally of the Kremlin.
On the diplomatic front, Russia has been engaged in military-to-military talks with the United States, held discussions with the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime, and this week President Vladimir Putin will address the United Nations General Assembly—his first address in a decade.
Why is Russia acting now? Carnegie Moscow Center’s Nikolay Kozhanov answered this question in his interview on ABC with Geraldine Doogue. Jeffrey Mankoff, acting director and fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), also participated.
The Russians have been involved in Syria since the beginning of the crisis, Kozhanov said. He argued that the current increase of Russian supplies and presence in support of the Assad’s regime is part of the Russian plan to start negotiations on the ground to resolve the crisis—the Kremlin would like to bolster the regime long enough so that it survives until the start of this reconciliation process.
Russians do not believe that Assad’s days are over, Kozhanov added, since they recognize that there is no individual, in their mind, who can take his place. Also, Moscow thinks that only the preservation of the current Syrian regime will guarantee the survival of this country.