Brandt School Universität Erfurt

Russia's Intervention in Syria

On Thursday, February 2nd, Dr. Margarete Klein, Senior Researcher at SWP in Berlin, held a guest lecture at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy.

In her guest lecture, Dr. Klein focused on the Russian intervention in Syria, in a local and geopolitical context, by addressing the underlying interests, successes and risks of the Russian policy.

Approximately 15 months ago, Russia started its military intervention in Syria. The official legitimization of this undertaking was the fight against terrorism, which, according to the Kremlin is a top priority for the Russian foreign policy in the Middle East. But despite this official statement, the attacks of the Russian air force were targeted not on positions held by daesh, but on strongholds of the forces opposing the Assad regime.

Dr. Klein argues that the motivation behind the Russia’s engagement in Syria are manifold and can be traced back to geo-strategic ambitions rather than to a close relation to the Assad regime. The expansion of military and political power in the middle east, the maintenance of a secular system in Syria and the significance of Syria as a trump card in the tense relations to the European Union are among the major reasons for Russia’s intervention.

Despite various successes, which were achieved by this policy for Russia, like the fact that Western politicians accepted the idea of a solution of the conflict with Bashar al Assad staying in office, Russia’s military intervention in Syria cannot be prolonged indefinitely. The Russian elections in 2018, the military intervention in Ukraine and the tense economic situation of Russia will especially limit Russia’s military engagement.

The future of Syria and the Russian policy in the Middle East strongly depends on the development of the transatlantic relations on the one hand, and the European-Russian relations on the other hand, according to Dr. Klein.