by Chris Miller, for Yale Global Online
The image of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov steaming through the English Channel, leading a fleet from the Baltic Sea toward the Syrian coast, signaled the Kremlin’s wider ambitions. Though the world may focus attention on the war in Syria and negotiations over Aleppo, Russia’s strategic aims loom large.
Russia’s military intervention in the Syria civil war on behalf of Bashar al-Assad’s government has multiple motives. It is an attempt to shore up a fellow authoritarian regime against what the Kremlin sees as another illegitimate American effort at regime change. It is an attempt to shift the agenda after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine turned into a costly quagmire. It is also an attempt to fight terrorism, which threatens Russia as much as any Western state.