With naval and air maneuvers in the Mediterranean ahead of a predicted invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin is demonstrating its power far beyond Europe.
Russia is expected to attack Ukraine in the coming days, according to the United States and its nearest Western allies. When carried out, such a war would be disastrous for eastern Europe, causing unrest not witnessed in the region in 3 decades, possibly not since World War II.
“If Russia does invade Ukraine they would not hesitate to be able to act as a spoiler in Syria as well,” Michael E. Kurilla, Lt. Gen. stated US senators.
What that Means:
In recent times, Russian forces supporting President Bashar al-regime Assad’s have put US troops but also their Kurdish-led allies to the test on the east bank of the Euphrates River.
Whilst electronic warfare is where the majority of clashes occur, other encounters have become lethal. Some hundred Russian Wagner mercenaries, as well as Syrian irregular forces, tried to capture the US- and Kurdish-held natural gas reserves in Syria’s east during early 2018, solely to be wiped out by Pentagon-approved US airstrikes.
Russian forces in Syria, on the other hand, have grown more forceful in recent months, according to a Pentagon watchdog assessment released last week.
“[T]he Russian military committed an increased number of violations of the deconfliction protocols it has with [US-led] Coalition forces to coordinate air and ground movements in Syria, compared with previous quarters,” the report read.
According to the Pentagon study, the bulk of the incidents occurred between personnel on the ground, as well as the majority “presented no threat to Coalition forces.”
In recent times, pro-government forces throughout Syria have assaulted US troops, albeit US-led coalition personnel has progressively tended to maintain their distance from pro-regime outposts.
What to Watch for
Although the US-led coalition still has possession of the skies above the northeast, Russian planes have been harassing American planes in recent weeks.
Likewise, in Europe, the US has ruled out overt military action on Kyiv’s behalf whilst continuing to send additional troops to NATO members.
Why Syria Matters
The Russian military engagement in Syria on behalf of the Assad government in 2015 offered Moscow a strategic foothold just on the Mediterranean, in which it can deploy mercenaries into Libya and Sub-Saharan Africa, posing a geopolitical challenge to the US from outside Europe.