What’s behind Russian support for Syria?

Whatever drove Russian leader Russian President Vladimir Putin to tell reporters this morning his support for Syria’s Assad regime is unshakeable? What is behind Russian manoeuvers that evoke Cold War brinkmanship, such as bolstering its naval deployment off Syria’s coast?

The two countries have no strong political links, are embroiled in frequent disputes, and Damascus accounts for very little of Moscow’s global arms sales.

The answer to this puzzle is found on Russian soil, writes F&O international affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe in today’s column: Putin supports Syria because he fears revolution spreading to Russia’s Muslim population.

The column, in Commentary, can be accessed with a $1 day pass for the entire site, or by subscription.