There has been widespread confusion among analysts about Russian motives in Syria, confusion that has led to flawed expectations. Russia never sought a ‘winner-takes-all’ victory. Rather, its entry into the conflict reflected its view that the West was a key obstacle in the way of a political settlement in Syria, hence its aim to weaken all armed groups and coerce a compromise.
Moscow’s surprise announcement this week that it will begin immediately to wind down its presence in Syria suggests its limited military objective has been achieved. This was outlined, along with an implicit exit strategy, by Putin on 11 October …read more