Friday, December 4th 2015
“President Vladimir Putin is actively misinforming his domestic audience and the international community about Russia’s first military intervention outside the former Soviet Union since Afghanistan,” wrote Hugo Spaulding in a detailed and informative article with many maps, “Russia’s False ISIS Narrative in Syria,” appearing on the Institute for the Study of War website on December 1, 2015. Spaulding is a Ukraine research analyst at the Institute. “Moscow does view ISIS as a legitimate security concern, but the dissonance between Russia’s claimed objectives and its actual behavior reveals that Russia uses anti-ISIS rhetoric as a pretext to pursue its larger strategic objectives," he concluded. Here are a few bullets and the five “myths.”
- Russia seeks to preserve the Syrian regime and diminish the influence wielded by the U.S. and its regional allies, which support the Syrian opposition.
- Regime preservation in Damascus is a core Russian objective that enables Russia to cement its foothold in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean Sea while simultaneously expanding its influence through partnerships with Iran and the Iranian network of regional proxies.
- Putin is leveraging disinformation in order to obfuscate his true objectives in Syria and thereby manipulate the U.S. and regional actors into inadvertently helping Russia achieve its goals.
- . . . five of the most prominent and problematic Russian myths . . . demonstrate why adherence to them in the West produces dangerous policy options.
MYTH 1: RUSSIA INTERVENED IN ORDER TO DEFEAT ISIS * * *
MYTH 2: RUSSIAN AIRSTRIKES TARGET TERRORIST GROUPS * * *
MYTH 3: RUSSIA WANTS TO WORK WITH THE SYRIAN ARMED OPPOSITION * * *
MYTH 4: RUSSIA’S COALITION-BUILDING EFFORTS ARE ABOUT FIGHTING TERRORISM. * * *
MYTH 5: WESTERN COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA WILL DEFEAT ISIS AND END THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR * * *