Russia needs the Bashar al-Assad government to control Syria in order to leverage against Western sanctions which have damaged Russia’s currency and helped drive the country into recession.
The sanctions were placed on Russia by multiple Western states, the United States, and the EU following its military intervention in the Ukraine last year.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with Iranian Khabar television station, that he believes that the Russian intervention in Syria is essential to maintaining stability in the region.
“[The coalition] must succeed; otherwise the whole region, not only one or two countries, will be destroyed,” President al-Assad said.
“This coalition will, no doubt, achieve real results on the ground, particularly that it enjoys international support from countries which do not have a direct role in these crises and in this region.”
Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) National Office Operations Manager, Chris Farnham, said Russia needed to secure al-Assad’s crumbling government because it was their ally, and needed to maintain influence in the Middle East.
“Russia needs Syria as a leverage point against Western sanctions and pressure from the conflict in Ukraine,” Mr Farnham said.
“Russia’s involvement in Syria is what Iraq is to the US, a government that asked for help to fight against an invading force.”
United States President Barack Obama said in a media statement last week that Russia’s military involvement in Syria would end poorly, and al-Assad’s regime was brutal and needed to stop.
“A military solution alone – an attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population – is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire, and it won’t work,” President Obama said.
This story follows NATO’s rejection of Russia’s apology for an accidental warplane expedition into Turkish airspace during operations in Syria.