Military Review

The whole truth about the strategy of Russia in Syria

View from Moscow on the Russian strategy underlying the Syrian campaign

Russians have once again proved themselves to be cool strategists. The Kremlin’s recent campaign in Syria took not only ISIS off guard, but also intelligence services and analysts of the West.

Russia's ability to change the strategic situation on the ground with minimal effort and maximum disguise is commendable. However, Moscow is struggling with ISIS by no means from noble motives. This is a practical question that is directly related to the national security of Russia.

Russian-Syrian security ties

Russia was contemplating the possibility of intervening in the Syrian conflict since at least 2013, when it first proposed replacing the Austrian peacekeepers on the Golan Heights with Russian ones. With 2013, Moscow has played a significant role in the removal of chemical weapons - At the same time, the first serious negotiations began with Damascus on the fight against radical Islamists. At the same time, Russia was engaged in a strategic military dialogue with Iraq, which resulted in signing the 4,2 billion deal with Baghdad for the supply of weapons in 2012 and the delivery of Su-25 fighters in 2014. In July, 2015, Russia negotiates with Iran to participate in the struggle of Syria against ISIS. From that moment on, the issue of attacking ISIS was no longer “if”, but “when” and “how”. And the Ukrainian crisis did not change Russia's plans; it only delayed the intervention a little.

At the heart of Russia's concern are security concerns. If we allow ISIS to establish control over Syria and Iraq, then in about five years, many well-trained terrorists will begin to return to the North Caucasus and Central Asia. Russia estimates that at least 5,000 of 70’s thousands of ISIS militants come from Russia and the CIS countries. From a strategic point of view, a campaign to destroy them in the Middle East will bring Russia long-term benefits at relatively low costs compared to the fight against terrorists in Russia.

Limited participation strategy

Russian strategy in Syria includes two scenarios. The first involves limited participation in the Syrian conflict. Its advantage is that by spending the minimum amount of resources and not raising the bar high, Moscow nevertheless gets a lot.

The whole truth about the strategy of Russia in SyriaFirst, Russia can destroy the infrastructure of this terrorist group and prevent it from strengthening its influence, while there is no need to destroy it completely. North Caucasian terrorists in Russia were completely destroyed, but inside the “no-man’s strip” in Syria, they can build training camps and start exporting terrorists to Russia, as they did in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Secondly, Moscow wants to maintain a friendly regime in Syria. In this case, Russia will be able to invest in its naval base in the Mediterranean and guarantee itself a major role in gas production projects on the Syrian, Cyprus and Israeli shelf.

Third, Russia is seeking to take the position of a leading power in the Middle East, capable of conducting effective military operations. Until now, no state, with the exception of the United States, could project power so far from its borders. In Syria, Russia demonstrated its ability to influence events in remote regions of the planet, and thus it changed the plans of the capitals of the Middle East. By hitting cruise missiles launched from the Caspian Sea by ISIL in Syria, Russia consolidated its presence in the region.

Finally, the Syrian operation is an opportunity to demonstrate in action Russian weapons, satellite communications and the GLONASS navigation system - their deadly effectiveness, high accuracy and reliability. This demonstration is aimed primarily at potential customers in the largest and continuing to grow arms market - in the countries of the Middle East. It also confirms Russia's ability to maintain full sovereignty in the event of war.

The shift of attention from Ukraine to Syria was not one of the main goals of Moscow, but since this is exactly what is happening as a result of recent events, we can consider this another achievement of Russia.

Scenario large-scale participation

The tasks listed above are the minimum that Russia can count on if its bomb campaign runs smoothly. The top bar of the second scenario is much higher, in addition, it carries much more risks.

With the support of Syria, Iraq and Iran, Russia can hope for the complete destruction of ISIS in the region, including its militants from the CIS countries. If this goal is achieved, it can lay the foundation for restoring the traditional borders of Syria and Iraq and make them loyal allies of Russia in the future. Stabilization of the situation in Syria and Iraq will mean the emergence of conditions for the normalization of life in these countries. This will put an end to the migration crisis in the region and in the European Union.

However, achieving these goals implies the need to use much more resources and the participation of a more powerful coalition, which should include the Western powers and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. In the absence of such a coalition, the targets of the second scenario will be more ambitious than the current plan of Moscow suggests.

Resource management in the framework of the war with ISIS

Does Russia have enough resources to implement its plans in Syria?

Moscow gained the full support of Syria, Iraq and Iran, so now it can act independently of the West. Russia's allies are extremely interested in defeating ISIS, and they tried to achieve this even before the intervention of Moscow. If we consider only numbers, then it may seem that Russia is making the smallest contribution to this struggle within the framework of its coalition, but in fact its participation is decisive.

Russia's military resources are enough to conduct an effective long-term campaign in Syria. Critics forget that Russia was directly involved in resolving conflicts in Georgia, Moldova and Tajikistan in the 90s, when its economy was going through particularly difficult times.

Moreover, the leaders of the Russian Sunni community (approximately 14 million people) support the initiative of the Kremlin and condemn the ideology of ISIS. In September, the largest Sunni mosque in Europe opened in Moscow, which further strengthened support from the Muslim clergy. At the opening ceremony of the mosque, Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that it would contribute to the spread of humanistic ideas, the true, genuine values ​​of Islam in Russia, and accused the so-called Islamic state of compromising the great world religion.

Intervention risks

The Syrian campaign of Russia can bring it significant benefits. However, the risks associated with it are also high. The arrival of Russia to Syria was very spectacular, but the output can be quite a challenge.

First, Russia runs the risk of spoiling relations with an important regional partner - Turkey. Ankara is interested in assad leaving, and she uses the fight against ISIS to suppress Kurdish troops on the Syrian side of the border. Despite all the statements that the policy does not affect the economic ties between the two countries, the start of the ambitious Turkish Dream project was postponed until the 2017 year. This is not the first time that disagreements arise between Russia and Turkey on regional issues, but in the past they managed to avoid confrontation.

Secondly, Russia may be stuck in Syria, as happened with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. That is why Moscow begins to act only after a serious study with the support of reliable regional allies and with a clear exit strategy. Having received a valuable lesson in Afghanistan and Chechnya, Russia prepared itself well for war with a low intensity of hostilities.

However, the biggest risk is that Russia may be drawn into a regional Sunni-Shiite conflict on the side of the Shiites. Considering the fact that a huge number of Sunnis live in the territory of the Russian Federation, Moscow should take special care. According to critics, the fight against LIH will force Russia to confront all the Sunnis in the region. However, this statement suggests that all Sunnis support ISIS, and this is not the case.

This leads us to the question of what the Syrian strategy of Russia currently lacks, namely, the issue of a viable Sunni opposition of ISIL. Having well learned the lesson learned in Chechnya, Russia will seek a solution to the Syrian conflict by negotiating with local influential leaders of the Sunni communities who are ready to join the fight against terrorists. If one of these Sunni leaders ultimately triumphs, he will fill the vacuum that ISIS will leave behind, as happened with Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya.

Applying the Chechen scenario to the situation in Syria is a rather difficult task, but it is the only way to achieve a full-fledged agreement in this war-torn country. That is why Russia considers the French proposal to unite the forces of the Syrian government with the “healthy opposition” in the Free Syrian Army as an “interesting idea” that should be considered.
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    1. kayman4
      kayman4 23 October 2015 04: 03 New
      ALL THE TRUTH!!!! - this is how easy it is to break off the covers of state secrets :)
  2. PlotnikoffDD
    PlotnikoffDD 22 October 2015 14: 21 New
    Очередной "эксперт" с очередной "всей правдой"! Что нового написано в статье? правильный ответ: nothing.
    1. Mainbeam
      Mainbeam 22 October 2015 14: 33 New
      Quote: PlotnikoffDD
      What's new in the article?

      And what is written correctly? That all barmalei on the territory of the Russian Federation destroyed? Or what is possible to destroy all боевиков ИГИЛ в Сирии? Разбегутся как тараканы по всем странам, и десятой доли в землю не закопать. Или "разговор" про коалицию арабских государств Персидского залива? Представляю союз Сирии и Израиля, или турков с курдами ( "Представляю" - это сарказм).
      1. Sterlya
        Sterlya 22 October 2015 14: 41 New
        Quote: MainBeam
        First, Russia can destroy the infrastructure of this terrorist group and prevent it from strengthening its influence, while there is no need to destroy it completely. North Caucasian terrorists in Russia were completely destroyed, but inside the “no-man’s strip” in Syria, they can build training camps and start exporting terrorists to Russia, as they did in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

        After did not read. I get it. Not worth it
        1. bif
          bif 22 October 2015 14: 46 New
          Quote: Sterlya
          After did not read. I get it. Not worth it

          The strategy is, in short ...
        2. Papakiko
          Papakiko 22 October 2015 15: 44 New
          Quote: Sterlya
          After did not read. I get it. Not worth it

          Yes, the writer is still one, lyudina.
          It’s better to read it (today, one respected comrade unsubscribed):
          I will briefly go over the goals that we MUST set for ourselves in Syria:
          1) Военные: Понятно, что независимо от дополнительных, внешних причин нашего прямого военного вмешательства в Сирии основной была вполне реальная возможность быстрого краха режима Б.Асада, после целого ряда поражений его армии за последнее время.А бросать его нам было нельзя - и здесь дело не только в том, что "завтра ОНИ придут к нам", но надо еще помнить, что Сирия, в отличии, например от Египта, никогда не меняла свою промосковскую ориентацию, к-рую она заняла еще до прихода к власти в 1970 году Асада-старшего.
          И надо сказать, что сверхсрочная задача спасения режима в Дамаске нами, вроде бы, решена.Что дальше?Понятно, что речь о полной военной победе идти не может. Ну, не то чтобы нельзя было победить массу из миллиарда или полутора человек, пришедших в последнее время в движение ("исламская реформация") - военно-технически такое, в общем то, достижимо, но в наше время на такое никто не пойдет и ставить перед военными такие задачи нельзя.
          And you can do the following (in addition to acquiring a variety of experience, testing equipment and practicing tactics - I wrote about this in more or less detail BEFORE the operation:
          - при помощи наземных сил (армии Сирии, иранского спецназа и отрядов Хезболлы) отбить стратегически важные пункты в окрестностях Алеппо, Хамы, Хомса и Дамаска, прочно их занять и используя превосходящую огневую мощь в ходе ожидаемо постоянных контратак исламистов на эти пункты перемалывать их живую силу и технику, неся, при этом, на ПОРЯДКИ меньшие потери. Пока что, правда, продвижение наземных сил наших союзников происходит с большим трудом (что и как нужно сделать для "ускорения процесса" напишу отдельно). Да, еще одна военная цель тоже уже достигнута - "попутно" - пуск КР МБ БД из акватории Каспийского моря создал явную и недвусмысленную военно-техническую угрозу для гос-в Персидского залива, в т.ч. Саудии и Катара - и это ХОРОШО!
        3. Papakiko
          Papakiko 22 October 2015 15: 44 New
          2) Political
          Внешние политические цели - типа замирения с Западом и обмена ситуации в Малоросии на Сирию, как я уже писал, не могут быть достигнуты, поэтому надо сосредоточиться на региональных:- с Турцией до выборов говорить бессмысленно (а наверное и после них - тоже)- курдскую карту мы выронили при Ельцине вместе с А.Оджаланом, американцы там сидят плотно, но что-то попробовать на направлении можно - но только НЕ ДАВАТЬ им ни государственности, ни автономии - лишь невнятные обещания - им и этого будет много!- расширение операции на Ирак напрашивается и, наверное, произойдет само собой, чуть позже. - Израиль попытался самоустраниться от выполнения своей всемирно-исторической миссии - оттягивания на себя исламистов, но сама логика процесса, даже без нашего активного участия, вернет все на свои места - уже скоро. - теперь о самой Сирии - про некую "оппозицию" надо ЗАБЫТЬ - эта нелепая проамериканская сволота в костюмчиках ничего за собой не имеет и перекупать ее бессмыленно - только тратить деньги и время. Любая оппозиция в Сирии - наша законная военная цель! А вот с самими исламистами вопрос сложнее - недаром те, кто хоть что-то смыслит в "колбасных обрезках" последнее время поминают про наш чеченский опыт - он тут может быть воспроизведен! Другой вопрос, что сейчас у них своя подпитка - местная нефтянка, так вот ее и надо "отобрать" - отраслевая инфраструктура очень уязвима для ударов с воздуха! А голодные и постоянно побиваемые, как правило, готовы к деловому разговору...3) Экономические: Ну, в самой Сирии брать особо нечего, хотя про побережье я писал - его надо ЗАБИРАТЬ, поделив страну (форма - отдельный вопрос). Нефти своей там немного, а бум был связан с перепродажей, в свое время, иракской санкционной.Так что вопрос надо ставить шире - как вообще поднять цены на энергоносители. И ответ на него очень простой - эскалация конфликта и перенос его центра тяжести на нефтяные монархии Залива! Причем чем быстрее, тем лучше.А то, думаете, ЗАЧЕМ саудиты нефть в хранилищах во все возрастающих обьемах запасают, а?! -аналитики гадают на кофейной гуще, а все банально - это резерв для вытеснения с рынка нашей, в случае эмбарго (а еще и иранская подоспеет)!Неужели кто-то думает, что наши "партнеры" дремлют или дожидаются когда Обамка на дембель соскочит?! Нет, конечно...Такие вот дела!
          1. sa-ag
            sa-ag 22 October 2015 18: 17 New
            Quote: Papakiko
            . And then, you think, why the Saudis store oil in storages in ever-increasing volumes, and ?!

            Because the price of it falls, and its production cannot be stopped, that’s why they work mainly in the warehouse
            1. Papakiko
              Papakiko 22 October 2015 20: 40 New
              Quote: sa-ag
              and its production cannot be stopped

              It is truth too.
              But the main thing (95%) is what Komrad unsubscribed about.
      2. Babr
        Babr 22 October 2015 14: 42 New

        The opening of hostilities in Syria, closes New Russia.
        1. Andrey Skokovsky
          Andrey Skokovsky 22 October 2015 20: 30 New
          Quote: Babr
          The opening of hostilities in Syria, closes New Russia.

          Putin leaked something
          Putin leaked se ...
          Putin .......

          PORCELAIN DECKERS AMAZED !!!!!!!!!
          1. Babr
            Babr 22 October 2015 20: 45 New
            Quote: Andrey Skokovsky
            Quote: Babr
            The opening of hostilities in Syria, closes New Russia.

            Putin leaked something
            Putin leaked se ...
            Putin .......

            PORCELAIN DECKERS AMAZED !!!!!!!!!

            Andryusha, but weakly apologize when it all comes out?
            I think weakly. Because you live on a TV screen. Turn it off, but rather throw it away with ... well, what floor do you live on.
            The telly is shattering ... and it’s not PR reality that will open before you.
    2. marlin1203
      marlin1203 22 October 2015 14: 53 New
      Применение "чеченского сценария"? Для этого в свое время оперлись на "местных"(Кадыров, Ямадаев), которые и сами были уже не рады пришлым арабам. А в Сирии все такие местные уже в Германию сдернули. С кем тогда контактировать? С международным террористическим интернационалом? Сдается мне, что не выйдет. А "свободная сирийская армия" лишь вывеска для того же игил. Так что скорее всего "разговора не будет". soldier
  3. kartalovkolya
    kartalovkolya 22 October 2015 14: 26 New
    Главная стратегическая задача состоит не только в уничтожении ИГИЛ,но и в создании Международного союза против политики США по беспардонному вмешательству во-внутренние дела любых стран под всякими надуманными предлогами! Стратеическая основа их (США) политики - это создание т.н. "управляемого хаоса",но ведь хаосом можно управлять только в начальном периоде,а затем он происходит по своим законам и вопреки воле организаторов, что очень хорошо видно на примерах Ливии,Ирака,Афганистана и других...! Не возможно разрушением что либо создать,разрушением можно только уничтожить созданное другими,но есть возможность у создателей хаоса получить его и на своей территории,так-что если будете гадить и дальше,то делайте это с оглядкой...
    1. hydrox
      hydrox 22 October 2015 14: 47 New
      The second half written by iksperd is something!
      Does he think that boobies are sitting in the Kremlin?
      Russia has a completely different goal: after ISIS, to build such a structure that a balance is maintained between Sunnis and Shiites, not at the level of religions, but at the level of government bodies, mainly on the ground. And not only in Syria, but also in Iraq and the Kurdish territories (and this is a decent piece of Turkey) ...
      И лучше бы ему вообще помолчать, потому как он "забыл" учесть интересы христиан-друзов, курдов с их притязаниями на создание Курдистана, сирийцев "светского толка".
      The talker, in short, is not an expert at all ...
      1. Tambov Wolf
        Tambov Wolf 22 October 2015 15: 09 New
        If smart people were sitting in the Kremlin, then there wouldn’t be such a mess in the country. Thieves were sitting, enemies of the people fell, the economy was growing. Therefore, the question of the mind is still the same. And while thieves steal, the enemies of the people broadcast, the economy seems to be not.
      2. traveler
        traveler 22 October 2015 22: 51 New
        Christian Druze

        but how, the Druze suddenly turned out to be Christians, and why not Buddhists?
        1. Michael_59
          Michael_59 23 October 2015 07: 53 New
          Quote: traveler
          why not Buddhists

          Why Buddhism? Because of the adherence to the theory of transmigration of souls?
    2. Horst78
      Horst78 22 October 2015 14: 53 New
      Quote: kartalovkolya
      kartalovkolya (2) RU Today, 14: 26 New

      Quote: kartalovkolya
      The main strategic objective is not only the destruction of ISIS,

      I agree
      Quote: kartalovkolya
      and in the creation of the International Union against the US policy of shameless interference in the internal affairs of any country under any far-fetched pretexts!
      а вот тут нет. Главное не сша пододвинуть (они уже и сами неплохо подвигаются). Главное чтобы Международное Право соблюдалось всеми, а не вытиралось ногами "избранных", которые "равнее" всех "равных". hi
  4. andron72
    andron72 22 October 2015 14: 28 New
    put everything together we've known all this for a long time laughing
  5. vex
    vex 22 October 2015 14: 43 New
    Upon reading, two questions arose to the author.
    1. Почему мы должны заботиться о том, что могут испортиться отношения с Турцией? Разве законны их притязания по отношению к территориям и формированию нового этно-политического устройства Сирии? На каком основании они могут требовать отставки законно избранного президента? Что это, если не агрессия - подготовка, вооружение и лечение террористов? С каких пор стало нужным избегать "порчи" отношений с агрессором, имеющим большой аппетит, в том числе и на наши тюрко- и мусульманонаселенные регионы?
    2. Особо бояться суннитского протеста в наших мусульманских республиках не стоит. Разве не прочувствовали на свое коже на Северном Кавказе, что и кто стоит за такими "защитниками ислама", как ИГ, талибы, ваххабиты? Мало бородачи принесли горя в семьи чеченцев и дагестанцев? Думаю, там прекрасно понимают, что цель помощи Сирии - уничтожение убийц, препятствующих мирной жизни, что особенно на руку западным "демократиям".
    KGB WATCH YOU 22 October 2015 14: 46 New
    The key point is that this assistance should have been provided 3 years ago. Already in 2012, everything was clear. Why didn’t they help then? This is what we need to build on.

    PS. With such brakes in the Kremlin, I would not be surprised that in 2-3 we will send troops to Ukraine. Although this should have been done in 2014.
    1. Corsair
      Corsair 22 October 2015 15: 16 New
      Quote: KGB WATCH YOU
      The key point is that this assistance should have been provided 3 years ago. Already in 2012, everything was clear. Why didn’t they help then? This is what we need to build on.

      Ждали пока Ирану снимут санкции, благодаря этому Иран сейчас спокойно может помогать Сирии и Асаду. Всему свои очередь и время. Полным ходом идет подготовка к жизни при частом применении разных подлянок со стороны "партнеров", которые нас подсадили в 90-х на свои карты, предприятия на свои банки, задавили наших промышленников, чтоб конкуренции не было.
      The same swift, even just the movement of money through banks and sanctions against banks in the structures of large corporations. Perhaps you didn’t feel anything special, and the companies that relied on cheap loans abroad were hard hit.
      1. BMW
        BMW 22 October 2015 15: 40 New
        Quote: Corsair
        companies that relied on cheap loans overseas, hit hard.

        Cheap loans should be ours, not foreign, so to speak made in Russia. And the government, with the president, doesn’t itch with a foot, only money begs in the Duma. It was better to invest in companies producing the final product with high added value instead of filka western papers.
  7. Sterlya
    Sterlya 22 October 2015 14: 50 New
    All strategy and tactics are now very simple. Victory!
    But not only militarily, but also politically.
    Win the war, and then after the shocks so that the Dermocrats put their own?
    This is how we defeated fascism, left Europe, but they left the ancestors of fascism to the Naglosaklosak people. In the place of the Germans, I would also not know what I thought about Russia.
    In Russia there are many talented, inquisitive minds, the whole thing is to attract the right people to the right places. (as always, as comrade I.V. Stalin said, Personnel decide EVERYTHING)
    (В шутку, и "киллера" час за свои отстреливают чиновников Бездарных, Всех достали)
  8. Tsvetkov
    Tsvetkov 22 October 2015 16: 19 New
    oh, I belittle thee))) don’t tell me, the ships sent several months to Syria and analysts from the USA didn’t suspect oh oh oh what we are cunning !! And the Americans didn’t do anything — nothing !!! a lot! —they did not raise their screams rubbing their palms, saying, let’s let the Russians !!!! start-we are Ig for you !!! - created for Syria !!! so that you get stuck there or why did they make needles and supply? to break Syria. they all knew !!! they had to drag Russia into the war? -drew-not in Ukraine duck in Syria ... people work, work ...
    1. traveler
      traveler 22 October 2015 22: 56 New
      мне весь этот спектакль с удивленными амерами, турками и пр. очень напоминает сказки дядюшки римуса - "только не в терновый куст".
      - Oh, Putin, just don’t intercede for Assad ... just don’t bomb the rebels ... just don’t start the ground operation ...
  9. Steppe
    Steppe 22 October 2015 17: 00 New
    request При чем здесь конфликт шиитов и суннитов? Мы боремся против людоедов, которые притворяются "настоящими мусульманами", чтобы поддержать доллар США.
    1. traveler
      traveler 22 October 2015 23: 02 New
      no, given that the war is mostly religious, we sided with the Alawites, temporarily mistaken for Shiites, which means that we would not declare and no matter how we make excuses against the Sunnis.
      and the fact that the official Muslim clergy in Russia speaks of approval does not mean that the ummah agrees with this.