Course all the cool kids knew it anyway:
"Moscow has continued to play enabler to the odious regime in Tehran and make a bogeyman of U.S. missile defense plans in Europe. Even its aid for American efforts in Afghanistan, which are important to Russia’s own interests, has been offset by moves to sabotage U.S. cooperation with neighboring states such as Kazakhstan."Zooming out of Commonwealth's "Near Abroad," the Syrian sideshow seems - well - kinda all discombobulated at 1st glance. Inviting the Syrian Opposition to Mockba, then altering course to warn internat'l cats to 'back off' Bashar al Assad and his systematic military response against his own citizens.
"...Moscow's dilemma is that it cannot openly explain its side of the US's geopolitical agenda toward Syria. Russia knows what follows will be that the Russian naval base there would get shut down by a pro-Western successor regime in Damascus that succeeds Assad."
Ah, yes - Vladland's window on the world
Russia can make a comeback as a “superpower,” at least in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
And in the Middle East, Russia has no friend except Syria. Iranian mullahs may be tactical allies when it comes to thumbing noses at America, but they won’t play second fiddle to Putin -- they fancy their own regime as the Middle East’s “superpower.”
Putin knows that Assad is doomed. But he wants to ensure that Russia has a say in choosing his successor. The emergence of a string of pro-West regimes from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean could shut Russia out of what Putin regards as part of its rightful zone of influence.
Another factor: The Russian lease on the Crimean port of Sevastopol runs out in 2017 and can’t be extended without Ukraine’s accord. Sevastopol is Russia’s largest naval base and its lifeline to maintaining a blue-water navy via the Black Sea, the Dardanelles and the Mediterranean. Losing the base would leave Russia a virtually landlocked country. Its enclave of Kaliningrad can never be developed into a major naval asset, while the Siberian coast in the far east is hard to resupply.
By 2017, Ukraine may well be a member of both the European Union and NATO -- and it would be odd indeed for a NATO member to host Russia’s biggest military bases.
So Moscow has been seeking an alternative to Sevastapol for the last decade. Russian strategists believe they’ve found it on Syria’s Mediterranean coast.
In 2002, Moscow and Damascus held preliminary talks on the subject. Initially, the idea was to transform the Syrian port of Tartus into an all-purpose aerial/naval base for both nations’ use. But European investment in the years since has turned Tartus into Syria’s major commercial port, ahead of Latakia. Then, too, the area’s population is largely “mainline” Muslims, who might resent the decision by a minority Alawite regime to offer bases to foreign powers.
There is also the Iran factor. As the chief supporter of the Assad regime, the Islamic Republic demands facilities for its own navy. In February, an Iranian flotilla visited Syria for the first time ever, amid reports that “mooring facilities” would be built to host a permanent presence.
Russia knows enough about the region to know that the Assad regime won’t stand much longer. This is why Putin is looking for a “median” solution: a new Syrian regime in which Moscow’s friends, meaning elements of the Assad regime, would have a place strong enough to offer the Russian navy an outlet when, and if, Ukraine throws it out.