Monday, September 14, 2015

RUSSIA - Syria, Putin Interference

"What does Moscow get from offering Assad military support?" PBS NewsHour 9/10/2015


SUMMARY:  What do we know about Russia’s military involvement in Syria?  Gwen Ifill speaks to Pavel Baev of the Peace Research Institute Oslo and Steven Simon of Dartmouth College.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  So, what are the Russians up to in Syria, and what’s the impact on the ground?

For some answers, we turn to Pavel Baev, a Russian military scholar and the research director at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, and Steven Simon, a visiting lecturer at Dartmouth College.  He served on the National Security Council staff during the Obama and Clinton administrations.

Pavel Baev, what do we know of the extent of the Russian involvement right now in Syria?

PAVEL BAEV, Peace Research Institute Oslo:  Very little is actually known for fact, and what is known doesn’t make much sense, because what the Russians are saying is, yes, we are supplying — were supplying small arms, ammunition and personnel carriers and some military advisers and some technical personnel.

This sort of military weapons do not need any technical advisers and personnel.  They’re pretty elementary.  So the feeling is that the little increase in Russian military deliveries produced a lot of political spin and that was deliberate.

GWEN IFILL:  Steven Simon, do we think we’re talking about advisory help or combat help?

STEVEN SIMON, Dartmouth College:  Well, we know that the Russians are worried about this — the viability of the Syrian regime right now.

The Syrians have — that is, the regime has absorbed pretty serious losses over the past year.  They had a good year in 2014 — 2015, not very good.  They lost Idlib.  They lost Palmyra.  They’re under pressure in the south and now they’re under pressure in the east at Deir el-Zour.

They have got a demographic problem.  It’s not clear how long they can actually keep up the fight.  For the Russians, the viability of this regime is extremely important for a number of reasons, and I seriously doubt they’re going to let it go down.

I infer from that the kind of assistance they’re preparing to provide to the Syrians will be military assistance, assistance that will help keep the Syrian regime afloat and on the battlefield at a very precarious moment.

So more people will be sacrificed on the alter of despot Bashar al-Assad.

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