By Alina PolyakovaIn December, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory over the Islamic State in Syria. This, of course, was the objective the Kremlin announced in 2015, when Russia first intervened in the country. Yet from the outset, the Russian air campaign primarily hit non-ISIS targets. It soon became clear that Putin’s chief goal was to ensure the future of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator. With Russian military backing, Assad, whose demise was once the ostensible focus of U.S. policy in Syria, has secured his regime’s survival and taken back swathes of territory previously held by U.S.-backed rebels.
Earlier this …read more