"Satellite imagery provided by AllSourceAnalysis confirms the recent arrival of Russian main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, and other military equipment at an airbase in Syria’s coastal Latakia province, indicating that Russia has deployed troops inside Syria. Concurrent military exercises inside Russia with the stated mission of training for long-range deployments of airborne troops suggest that Russia may intend to deploy additional forces, possibly further inside Syria. AllSource Analysis imagery of Taganrog Central airbase just east of the Ukrainian border from September 12 shows airborne troops rolling parachutes along a runway along with vehicles and tents more likely configured for sustained operations than for exercises or snap inspections. Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking ways to support the Assad regime, to thwart a possible buffer zone established by the United States and Turkey, and to embarrass the United States by positioning Russia as the leader of a new international anti-ISIS coalition. Russian mobilization may protect the Assad regime from rapid collapse, but it may also cause greater radicalization among the Syrian opposition. The Russian deployment to Syria is game-changing. It will alter the nature of international negotiations, compromise and weaken the cohesion and efforts of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, strengthen the Assad regime, and initiate direct Russo-Iranian military operations (suggesting the creation of a de facto Russo-Iranian military coalition, at least in Syria) for the first time. The U.S. and its partners must fundamentally reassess their approach to the Syrian conflict in light of this critical inflection." ISW study linked below
IMO there is a massive division within the Obama administration with regard to foreign policy. On the one hand you have pragmatists like Kerry and the JCS who want to see a viable policy that will carry the possibility of the destruction of the current Sunni jihadi movements. On the other hand you have Obama's band of social revolutionaries who want to see their campaign for unlimited and unfettered human rights continue to be projected overseas in efforts for regime change in Syria, Russia, Iran and in any other place that displeases them. This policy has been encouraged by Israel apparently as part of its short sighted policy of focusing altogether on short term enemies.
The Sunni jihadis have made a shambles of that policy. JAN and IS are the real enemies of all moderation and multiculturalism in the MENA area. The destructive US, Saudi, Turkish and Israeli insistence on the downfall of the Syrian Government has created a situation in which the jihadis have a real chance of being the next governing force in what is now called the Syrian Arab Republic.
Russia has decided that it will not accept such an outcome. The people who are babbling of Russia's desire for Syrian ports, air bases, and the humiliation of the United States are simply wrong. What Russia wants is the survival of secularism and the Syrian State. The real possibility that jihadism would emerge as a threat to the Russian state is unacceptable to Russia. To that end the Russians will seek to build up the position of the Syrian government through equipment deliveries and if necessary direct participation in combat against the jihadis. The ultimate goal is a multi-confessional, multi-national coalition against the jihadis.
The US and Russia are natural allies in that fight. There will now be de-confliction talks between the US and Russia. Most military people are practical people. De-confliction talks will inevitably lead to coordination of operations if the military people are allowed to try to make sense of the situation.
Bibi is going to his Canossa in Moscow on Monday. I can hardly wait to learn how that discussion will progress. pl