Desh Deshantar – Implications of Russian Troop Withdrawal from Syria
Recently Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered partial withdrawal of its troops from Syria has taken many by surprise. Putin is of the view that its objectivity of coming to Syria has been achieved. Some have speculated that it represents an attempt by Moscow to press Syrian President Bashar al-Assad towards a political settlement. Other analysts argue that as the Russian air campaign focused mostly on rebel groups battling Assad in western Syria, Russia can claim its mission was accomplished.
Russia had initially said that the military operations in Syria will be of limited nature it wanted to support Syrian ground forces and wanted to stop the flow of new terrorists coming in to Syria from different parts of the world.
Putin’s announcement came as Syrian peace talks resumed Monday in Geneva, Switzerland, in which members of the Syrian regime and opposition are meeting indirectly through a mediator to try to forge a path to peace.
The benefits of Russia staying in Syria no longer outweighed the costs with Russia’s economy in trouble because of falling oil prices; the fight in Syria could be deemed an unnecessary cost.
Some analysts also view Putin’s strategic goal had been to weaken NATO, by presenting Moscow as a more reliable regional power than Washington in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.
“By helping their friend in Syria without getting bogged down in a quagmire, Russia offers quite a contrast to American policy in the region”
Why troops withdrawal now?
First, Putin’s announcement came the same day as peace talks resumed in Geneva. On the agenda: how to govern Syria, a new constitution and presidential elections.Some see Russia’s withdrawal as evidence that Putin is sending a message that Syria must reach a political solution.
The second reason Russia’s timing is significant: This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Syrian civil war. More than 270,000 people have been killed, half the country has been uprooted, and more than a million migrants have made the dangerous voyage to Europe, leading to an international humanitarian crisis. The war has taken an especially brutal toll on children.
At last the Russian government may have withdrawn its air force and military, they are not giving up on Syria. They are keeping their airbase near Tartus and have promised to step in if the Islamic State decides to stage a serious comeback.