Rus­sia em­bold­ened by West’s weak ac­tions in Syria, Ukraine

Kyiv Post - - National - Salam Kawak­ibi, Tobias Sch­nei­der, Vadym Sk­ibit­skyi, Anna Bor­shchevskay­a,

“All look at the ex­am­ple of Rus­sia in Ukraine and Syria, and say — if Rus­sia can do that, why can’t we?” said Kristina Do­bro­vol­ska, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a open-source in­ves­ti­gat­ing com­mu­nity In­form Na­palm.

Mean­while, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions, the on­go­ing multi-sided war in Syria has claimed at least 500,000 lives and up­rooted more than 11 mil­lion peo­ple, send­ing half of them abroad as refugees.

Rus­sia, which in­ter­vened the con­flict in late Septem­ber 2015 to back the As­sad regime, still con­tin­ues de­liv­er­ing de­struc­tive air strikes on the re­main­ing Syr­ian re­sis­tance forces, as well as on civil­ian tar­gets. It's part of a cal­cu­lated Krem­lin strat­egy to cre­ate a refugee cri­sis that weak­ens the West with a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis, speak­ers said.

Due to the Krem­lin’s mil­i­tary and fi­nan­cial sup­port for the Da­m­as­cus regime, the dev­as­tat­ing war in Syria con­tin­ues with lit­tle hope of an end soon.

Tobias Sch­nei­der, a research fel­low at the Global Pub­lic Pol­icy In­sti­tute, said he is pes­simistic that a peace set­tle­ment would be found soon to the Syr­ian war. The best thing the global com­mu­nity can do try to save as many lives of Syr­ian civil­ians as pos­si­ble, he said.

Rus­sian in­ter­ven­tion "has trans­formed the na­ture of the con­flict in Syria,” he said. With the West un­able to bring about an end to the war, it should con­cen­trate on mak­ing the lives of those worst af­fected by the fight­ing more bear­able, Sch­nei­der said.

“Peace in Syria might not come in our gen­er­a­tion, but the lives of refugees can be made bet­ter. Bring­ing peace to Syria is un­re­al­is­tic — both in terms of po­lit­i­cal will and ac­tual ca­pac­ity.”

Rus­sians say their in­ter­ven­tion into Syria is to keep As­sad in power. But West­ern coun­tries con­tinue to be­lieve that Rus­sia’s in­ter­ven­tion was against ISIS ter­ror­ists. They (Rus­sians) want to talk to Amer­i­cans. They refuse to speak to Euro­peans who try to ne­go­ti­ate with them. Syria is on the last place on their list af­ter Ukraine is­sue, Crimea, the Baltics, gas is­sue, NATO, re­turn to the in­ter­na­tional diplo­macy. They don’t want to hear any­thing about the hu­man­i­tar­ian is­sue.

di­rec­tor of the Arab Cen­ter for Research and Pol­icy Stud­ies

I think Rus­sia's in­ter­ven­tion has fun­da­men­tally trans­formed the na­ture of the con­flict. Not nec­es­sar­ily so much be­cause Rus­sian bombs re­ally hit the op­po­si­tion this hard. (It) reshuf­fles the strate­gic pic­ture in the re­gion. Peace is elu­sive.. we can try to save as many Syr­ian civil­ians as pos­si­ble and make their lives as tol­er­a­ble as pos­si­ble. I look at the half of the pop­u­la­tion that can’t live and doesn’t have a fu­ture un­der the cur­rent regime. What will their pol­i­tics be? Bring­ing peace to Syria is un­re­al­is­tic but bring­ing peace to Syr­i­ans in dire sit­u­a­tions would be the best pro­ject. We need to start re-en­gag­ing.

research fel­low at Berlin-based Global Pub­lic Pol­icy In­sti­tute, ed­i­tor of Syria in Con­text weekly brief

Rus­sia tests its new weapons in Ukraine and Syria. Its mil­i­tary per­son­nel gains com­bat ex­pe­ri­ence. To­day, we have a very well trained and ex­pe­ri­ence en­emy. Af­ter the an­nex­a­tion of Crimea, Rus­sian started to in­crease the pres­ence of Rus­sian troops on the penin­sula and re­build mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties. Rus­sia’s main goal is to con­trol the Black Sea re­gion and pres­sure NATO states in the Black Sea re­gion and Mediter­ranean Sea.

deputy head of the chief direc­torate of in­tel­li­gence of Ukraine's Min­istry of De­fense

The United States has to in­crease its pres­ence in the re­gion us­ing ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture, sup­port­ing Syr­ian op­po­si­tion, and as­sur­ing the Mid­dle East and our al­lies that the US isn’t leav­ing the re­gion.

fel­low at The Washington In­sti­tute fo­cus­ing on Rus­sia's pol­icy to­ward the Mid­dle East

Anna Bor­shchevskay­a, Spe­cial­ist on Rus­sian in­flu­ence in Mid­dle East (R), speaks dur­ing the Kyiv Post's "Bring­ing Peace to Syria & Ukraine" con­fer­ence on June 18 in Kyiv. (Volodymyr Petrov)

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