Moscow Mixes Profit with Principle in Syria
Arvamus 21 Apr 2012  EWR
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Stephen Blank,Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 9 Issue: 79 April 20, 2012

To hear Moscow tell it, Russia’s aims in Syria are only motivated by principle. It opposes the use of ambiguous UN resolutions to permit intervention to forcibly democratize a country, an outcome that it believes invariably leads to protracted war. Russia is also against forcing out Bashar al-Assad. Moscow fears he will be replaced by a Sunni Arab regime that may then become a terrorist Islamist regime. As a result, Russian officials and many leading Russian experts invariably repeat these points in their public presentations (Interfax, March 30; Rossiya 24, March 19). But, behind the headlines and official meetings, the truth is rather more prosaic. It is quite clear that Moscow opposes any autonomous democratic politics whether it occurs in Libya, Syria or closer to home. Moscow fears that such examples will reverberate throughout Russia and the CIS as they did in the previous presidential election. In addition, Russia certainly opposes any extension of US or NATO power into the Middle East regardless of the outcome. Moreover, realizing that NATO shows no sign of intervening, Russia also now sees opportunities to grab economic and political advantages for itself and is not afraid to show force in its support for the Assad regime.

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