Second Year REES MPhil student publishes in the Washington Post
This article focuses on the rationale for Putin's recent military escalation in Syria and long-standing alliance with Assad, which has persisted despite considerable costs to Russia's economy and diplomatic relations with Sunni-majority states in the Arab world. My explanation focuses on Russia's international identity, which is anti-Western in nature, and I examine two main normative principles driving Russian conduct. These are national sovereignty and multilateralism. Russia believes that Syrian sovereignty is best retained by allowing Bashar Al-Assad to retain power, as he is the legitimate leader of Syria in the eyes of the Kremlin. Russia is also keen to avoid a Western regime change mission reminiscent of Libya 2011 from occurring in Syria, as Putin believes these regime change missions are aimed at advancing American hegemony under the guise of spreading democracy. Multilateralism is also an important factor as Russia sees its anti-ISIS campaign, pro-Assad and hawkishly counter-terrorist, as a credible rival to the US-led mission. Russia hopes that its emphasis on stability in Syria, will cause other countries in the Middle East and Europe, to accept a limited transition role for Assad. So far, the progress towards this objective has been uneven, but its undeniable that Putin is trying hard to make Russia an indispensable player in the Syrian quagmire and the Middle East in general. See article here.