Earlier this week, a rather amusing piece appeared on Sputnik entitled “Ahead of the Game: Russia Moving Faster in Syria Than US Media Can Report.” In it, Russian media outlined five steps US diplomacy expert Robert Farley thinks Russia will take next in Syria. The point of the article is this: Russia had already taken four of the five steps by the time Farley produced his list.
That is in many ways emblematic of Moscow’s deployment in Syria. From the time a Russian three star general strolled into the US embassy in Baghdad and informed the staff that airstrikes “start in one hour,” the rapidity with which Putin’s forces have established a base, sent in equipment, and launched a coordinated campaign with the IRGC and Hezbollah has been nothing short of astonishing.
That said, the mission hasn’t been without setbacks. There was of course the downing of a warplane by Turkey and the subsequent destruction of a Russian search and rescue helicopter by the FSA and as Bloomberg correctly points out (although the article is absurdly biased), “many senior officials in Moscow underestimated how long the operation in support of Bashar al-Assad would take when Putin entered Syria’s civil war on Sept. 30 and no longer talk in terms of just a few months, with one saying the hope now is that it won’t last several years.”
But Putin isn’t Obama and irrespective of how long the campaign will ultimately take, The Kremlin looks prepared not only to stay the course, but to ramp up the deployment. Not only is Moscow hitting terrorist targets with cruise missiles from Russia’s Caspian Fleet, but now, Moscow is shooting at ISIS from a submarine in what can only be described as an effort by Putin to use Syria as a testing ground for Russia’s long dormant military juggernaut (after all, you don’t really need to shoot at a group that doesn’t have an air force or a navy from a sub).
On that note, we present the following update graphic prepared by Louis Martin-Vézian of CIGeography as post at The Aviationst. It documents the scope of Russia’s operation in the Mid-East and should give you an idea of just how committed Moscow is to the fight.