If you have been following the news about Syria lately, you will have noticed that Russia has been decidedly pro-Assad (although this stance has softened as the death toll in Syria rises). Russia has a military base in Syria as well as a robust arms trade, making it as an ally in the Middle East. Therefore, a Syria without Assad puts Russia’s strategic partnership in jeopardy. Additionally, it’s an election year, Putin needs to act tough when dealing with Western Powers. Standing up to Western nations on the proposed UN resolution calling for Assad to step down shows a Putin asserting his global influence in an attempt to reestablish Russia as a Superpower.
Juan Cole of Informed Comment has a great piece on the current situation in Syria and where it might lead:
“So far, Russia and China have run interference for Damascus at the UN. Russia may be especially reluctant to back down on Syria given the upcoming presidential election, in Which Vladimir Putin will want to look strong against the West. The Libya intervention was extremely unpopular in Russia, where it was seen as neo-imperialism, and forestalling American and European meddling in Syria might make Putin look strong at home.”
Read more at Informed Comment. This is a great blog to supplement your mainstream news sources. Juan Cole is an expert on the Middle East and often cites news sources from the areas being discussed, therefore delivering more accurate accounts of events.