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On 11 June 2013, President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that President Assad’s position had led to the current situation in Syria. He stated on Russian state media that:

“Syria as a country was rife for some kind of change. And the government of Syria should have felt that in due time and should have undertaken some reform. Had they done that, what we’re seeing in Syria today would have never happened.”


Russian mercenaries on rebell side in syria? (Published June 10, 2013).

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Last year, the Syrian government presented the UN Security Council with lists of hundreds of foreign nationals who had been killed fighting against government forces in Syria. The lists included mercenaries from Arab countries, Europe, and Russia’s North Caucasus region, including Chechnya.

RIA Novosti.  “CIS Security Services to Track Syria Mercenaries.”  May 15, 2013.

Russia evacuated 116 Russian citizens and nationals of other ex-Soviet states on two planes belonging to the emergencies ministry which flew them from the Syrian port city of Latakia, the ministry said on Wednesday.

The flights came as expectations grow of Western military action against president Bashar al-Assad’s regime over claims it used chemical weapons in an attack outside the Syrian capital last week.

AFP.  “US and allies build case for Syria military action, Russia evacuates citizens.”  August 28, 2013.

Yet Russia continues to vote with the Palestinians at the United Nations, to invite Hamas to Moscow, to help Iran with its nuclear programme and to sell missiles to Syria, which then end up in the hands of Lebanon’s Hezbollah. In truth, a degree of disconnect has marked Russia’s relations with Israel ever since its foundation in 1948.

The Economist.  “Vladimir Putin and the holy land: Warmer relations with Israel do not stop Russia backing Syria and Iran.”  March 16, 2013.

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Russia has been (quietly) channeling civilian and military assets out of and away from Syria for some time, so while its talk supports the Assad regime, its walk appears in the other direction.

Whatever Russia’s true underlying stance may be — I happen to think it has to do with making money at the moment — its interests may reside more with the wild, wild west than with the interests of Islamic theocracies (and also more with the Greek Orthodox Church and Russia’s own grand heroic mythos than with emulation of foreign comic book inventions).

While Russia plays around with what it wants “Syria Next” to look like — because “Syria Dark Star” (as I like to call it) has had its bridges leading back to the recent past burned, most of them by its itself through relentless bombing and tank campaigns — it has become a general war zone for all comers.

Here is a Wikipedia listing for detailing armed strength on the rebel side (not including third-way Kurdish forces):

Syria Free Syrian Army: 50,000[4] – 80,000[25]

Syria Syrian Islamic Liberation Front: 37,000[4] (by May 2013)
 Syrian Islamic Front: 13,000[4] (by May 2013)
 Al-Nusra Front: 6,000[4] (by June 2013)
 Foreign Mujahideen: 10,000 (by August 2013)[26]

One might ask whether in its post-Soviet existence, Mother Russia has any obligations to Syria’s constituency in its entirety, and if so, what those might be, and what it needs to do to fulfill the obligations of the relationships, that as opposed to merely fulfilling arms deliveries contracts.

On 11 June 2013, President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that President Assad’s position had led to the current situation in Syria. He stated on Russian state media that:

“Syria as a country was rife for some kind of change. And the government of Syria should have felt that in due time and should have undertaken some reform. Had they done that, what we’re seeing in Syria today would have never happened.”[67]

Wikipedia.  “Russia’s role in the Syrian civil war”.

(I’d quote from source “67” but it wants me to subscribe.  If it were just one outlet or a few, maybe, but for the fast overviews I’ve been doing, I will need a sponsor with deeper pockets than my own and as good an attitude about looking at what “conflict, culture, language, and psychology” look like worldwide from the Second Row Seat to History, the common shared news platform provided by the World Wide Web).

Additional Reference

Meichtry, Stacy and Gregory L. White.  “Russia Counters EU Threats on Syria.”  Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2013.

The Mideastwire Blog.  “Russia says manpads in Syria theatre.”  October 24, 2012.

The Voice of Russia.  “US, Turkey worried by Syria mercenaries.”  August 8, 2013.