Russia Didn’t Withdraw from Syria, Did it?

As soon as it was announced that Putin had told Assad of his intention to redeploy the Russian forces in Syria, lots have concluded that the Russian-Syrian relation is at the thresholds of a great jeopardy.

In fact, politics is not that simplistic nor this way should one look at these two friend-countries and allies. Relation between nations and countries can’t be moody or up to hasty decisions specially in the Russian-Syrian case. The decision of redeploying the Russian forces didn’t come but after president Putin has achieved the desired goals from the Russian interference, these goals that were strategic and vital for Russia that can’t retreat whatever the cost was. As Russia has achieved most of what it wanted to do in Syria then redeployment was a wise step.


The main aim was to restore the momentum of the Syrian Army along with the national Syrian forces that have took the initiative back achieving some success against the terrorist forcing new facts on the ground. Another goal was reinforcing the Russian presence in the region through deploying its marine base in Tartus costal city, in addition to establishing two Arial bases. Other than the clear message that Russia sent to the world through its intervention in Syria, it aimed at reinforcing its position as a main global player despite the sanctions. Putin had no option but to interfere when he saw that the Syrian Army is about to collapse which he saw, through his experienced eye, that if the regime collapsed then Russia will get out of the region and its role would shrink as a mail regional player, which no mind would accept let alone the Putin mind.

The active presence of the Russians in the region, at the time many Russian allies and friends collapse in the region, is a vital Russian interest, hence Putin didn’t hesitate to interfere through sending his forces to Syria; as long as Assad rules then the Russian interests will be guarded. The collapse of the Assad regime means that Russia will get out from Syria and subsequently from the whole region.

In Addition, Russia won’t withdraw all of its forces but will keep reasonable forces in the Russian bases that are enough for decisive military interference when needed. Russia has proven that it can remotely and forcefully interfere through its long-range missile power. Also it doesn’t need a long time for the advanced and fast Russian aircrafts to reach the battle field on time.

Russian President Putin speaks at a news conference after an EU-Russia Summit in Brussels
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a news conference after an EU-Russia Summit in Brussels January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The redeployment of some of the Russian forces would give signals to the US and its allies that the Russians are serious for a political solution in Syria. This was clear from the Russian announcements pursuant to their redeployment which that were expressed by several Arab and international bodies like Saudi Arabia and the US department. This step also would stop the fall in the Russian currency and the deterioration that their economic situation, and withdrawing the Russian aircraft would save the Russian treasury lots of expenses.

Russia, and because of its strategic vital interest defending its last castle in the region, and in order to keep being a basic prominent player in the international political field, won’t withdraw completely from the Syria, despite the discrepancy that might appear between the Russian and the Syrian stances.

By: Rashid Shahin

Translated by: Sami, the bedouin 

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