Kremlin, Nov. 26, 2015: President Vladimir Putin has been strikingly successful in his strategy of using conflicts to promote Russia’s interests on the international stage (source: dpa)

Russia’s two-pronged strategy in Syria may be too clever

Russia’s entry into Syria’s increasingly chaotic civil war surprised many, raising the question of why it would want to dive into an almost certain quagmire. As the risks of ‘mission creep’ pull more Russian soldiers in, amid rising casualties, costs and terror attacks, the benefits seem few. But a proper understanding of Russian interests shows how the Kremlin hopes to use Syria to achieve two goals: a tighter grip on power at home and expanded clout abroad. It may yet work. But if Russia gets bogged down, the Syrian adventure and sanctions-induced hardship could combine to jeopardise President Vladimir Putin’s re-election chances in 2018.

It is tempting to believe that Russia acted ...

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Professor Stefan Hedlund
The Kremlin has had a good run, but there is plenty of reason to question how long its winning streak can continue
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