Over the past 48 hours or so, we’ve seen what certainly appears to be visual confirmation of a non-negligible Russian military presence in Syria. For anyone coming to the story late, overt Russian involvement would seem to suggest that the geopolitical “main event” (so to speak), may be closer than anyone imagined.
Russia’s excuse for being in Syria is the same as everyone else’s: they’re there, ostensibly, to fight ISIS. As we mentioned yesterday, and as we’ve detailed exhaustively as it relates to Turkey, the fact that ISIS has become a kind of catch-all, go-to excuse for legitimizing whatever one feels like doing is a dangerous precedent and Turkey’s crackdown on the Kurds proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Islamic State will serve as a smokescreen for more than just the preservation/ouster (depending on which side you’re on) of Bashar al-Assad.
Having said all of that, going into the weekend Russia had yet to confirm publicly that it had commenced military operations in Syria despite the fact that it’s the next closest thing to common knowledge that at the very least, the Kremlin has provided logistical support and technical assistance for a period that probably spans two or more years.
But on Friday, Vladimir Putin looks to have confirmed the scope of Russia’s military role, even if he stopped short of admitting that Russian troops are engaged in combat. Here’s The Telegraph:
Russia is providing “serious” training and logistical support to the Syrian army, Vladimir Putin has said, in the first public confirmation of the depth of Russia’s involvement in Syria’s civil war.
And while the highlighted passage there is actually impossible to prove given that the term “depth” is subjective, it certainly does appear that Putin is now willing to concede that support for Assad goes far beyond “political”. Here’s AFP as well:
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