Russia's conflict with Georgia in August 2008 drew worldwide attention to the re-emergence of conflict in Russia’s near abroad. Moscow’s concerns about missile defense in Eastern Europe along with Russian attempts to gain greater shares of the energy market in Europe and beyond, have also highlighted Russia’s role as a key player whose interests intersect with US national security. Russia also continues to remain a staging area for cyber attacks worldwide. In this sub-section, the Critical Threats Project explores these and other issues in several in-depth pieces.
IN THIS SECTION
Vladimir Putin famously called the collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th Century. The good news is that he isn’t rebuilding the Soviet Union.
Putin's just-announced “withdrawal” serves political, military operational, diplomatic, and possibly strategic purposes, but its actual significance for operations in Syria is minimal. Its significance for the long-term correlation of forces in the Mediterranean, however, is dire.
Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov and Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu to discuss Russia's involvement in Syria. A translation of the transcript follows.
Russia is already winning a new Cold War in the Mediterranean by re-establishing a permanent air and naval base on the Syrian coast under the guise of helping Bashar Assad fight terrorism.
The Russo-Iranian military coalition in Syria may be deeper than many have believed. The Iranian armed forces appear to be allowing Russian aircraft to use their military airfields in support of combat operations over Syria.
Russia and Turkey have long been at odds over Syria, with Moscow backing President Bashar al Assad and Ankara supporting the opposition to overthrow him. Tensions increased dramatically with the start of the Russian air campaign on September 30.
The nuclear agreement with Iran heightens the urgency of missile defense because of the way the Iranians have interpreted the deal. Yet the legacy suspicion of missile defense continues to paralyze the U.S.
The positioning of Russian aircraft in Syria gives the Kremlin an ability to shape and control U.S. and Western operations in both Syria and Iraq out of all proportion to the size of the Russian force.
In Russian President Vladimir Putin’s New Year’s address, he promised to keep up the fight against terrorists in Russia’s North Caucasus until “their complete destruction.” With the Sochi Winter Olympics less than a month away, however, it is becoming increasingly evident that Putin has bitten off more than he can chew.