Withdrawal establishes Russia as regional power

After months of protests from the West and in the midst of UN-led peace talks in Geneva, Russia started to partially withdraw its troops from Syria. Barry Strauss, a professor of history at Cornell University, says Putin’s strategic goal is to showcase Russia as a more reliable regional power than the United States.

Bio: http://history.arts.cornell.edu/faculty-department-strauss.php

Strauss says:

“With Putin, what you see is rarely what you get. His Syrian intervention strengthened Bashar al-Assad’s regime but Putin is after bigger game. His strategic goal is to weaken, if not destroy NATO, by showing that Russia is a more reliable regional power than the United States in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.

“Assad now goes into peace takes with a much stronger hand, thanks to Russia, but he also knows not to take Russian aid for granted.

“By helping their friend in Syria without getting bogged down in a quagmire, Russia offers quite a contrast to American policy in the region. Russia’s pullout is deft but by no means total, as it maintains both an airbase and a naval base in Syria, thereby keeping a finger in the pot. Among other things, this allows Russia to continue pressuring its regional rival, Turkey. Catching the Americans flatfooted and flabbergasted by the start of their partial withdrawal only sweetens Russia’s moment.”

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