Why Did Putin Do It?

It is common knowledge that the Russian government attempted to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The success of that interference is, and may always be, up for debate.

The same can be said for understanding the true nature of their motivations behind these actions.

On January 6, 2017, The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified report, assessing Russian activities and intentions in the most recent U.S. presidential election.

The twenty-three page report, created in union by The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and The National Security Agency (NSA), makes several, high confidence claims about Russia’s – and the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin’s – motivations and intentions behind their actions.

These actions, as identified by the report, include cyber espionage, the leaking of data collected by Russian Intelligence, interference in state and local electoral boards, and Russian propaganda efforts.

Getting inside the head of Vladimir Putin is impossible. Photo Credit: Lazopoulos George/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The goals behind these actions were also laid out in the report.

“Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” the report reads. “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

But while understanding these actions is important and necessary, maybe even more important, is to understand the motivations behind them.

“The motivation, if we can guess it, was just to disrupt, and to create doubts, and weaken the integrity of the process,” William Wohlforth, a Dartmouth professor who studies, among other areas, international relations and Russian foreign policy said in an interview with RISE NEWS.

Robert Jervis, the Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics at Columbia University, takes a similar view.

“It was a general attempt to discredit American democracy here and abroad,” Jervis said in an interview.

These attempts are not necessarily unusual – during the Cold War, the Soviet Union engaged in similar “active measures.”

In fact, the tactics used in 2016 are eerily similar to those used throughout much of the Cold War – primarily, the spreading of false information in an attempt to delegitimize or scandalize a perceived political opponent.

This horse really wanted Trump to win so Putin just went with it- probably. Ok not really. Photo Credit: Jedimentat44/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Mark Kramer recently wrote about this history on WBUR’s Cognoscenti website:

“[The KGB’s] Service A, formed in the 1950s, almost immediately set to work spreading disinformation, producing forgeries, transmitting propaganda, and disrupting U.S. and Western public diplomacy.”

Some of the misinformation spread by the KGB includes rumors that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was a “gay transvestite” and that Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon B. Johnson were colluding to continue black suppression.

During the Cold War- now seen as a more conventional battle between capitalism and communism, all behaviors stemmed from a fairly defined ideological starting point.

But in a post-Cold War era, these ideologies have become less defined, leaving the motivations behind these active measures more mysterious.

“Now, all bets are off, they don’t need to be particularly consistent with any political ideology,” Wohlforth said. “As long as it has the potential to weaken the cohesiveness of the block of states that they perceive to be against them.”

One of the more popular speculations is that Putin saw interference in the U.S. election as payback.

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the United States was secretly active in orchestrating the Color Revolutions of the early 2000s – a set of revolutions and protests in former Soviet republics.

Putin believes that the U.S. interfered so as to create a new geopolitical order.

Putin may also view his active measures as payback for his belief that the U.S. – and Secretary Clinton – was behind the massive protests in Moscow over his election in December 2011.

In 2014, Putin likened protests in his own country to the Color Revolutions.

“In the modern world, extremism is being used as a geopolitical instrument and for remaking spheres of influence,” Putin said in 2014. “We see what tragic consequences the wave of so-called color revolutions led to.”

“I really love this boat. Also, I like interfering with American elections.” Photo Credit: Jedimentat44/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

By interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Putin attempted to ruin the chances of victory for his perceived nemesis, Secretary Clinton, while also attempting to avoid any chance that he may have to interact with her as President of the U.S.

Also a popular speculation about Russia’s motivation is that Putin was actively hoping to change the outcome of the election – although there is little to no evidence to support this claim.

“I suspect that by some time in the fall that was one of the objectives,” Jervis said. “But the evidence for that is much weaker.”

When polls began to show Clinton as weaker than conventionally believed, Moscow may have seen an opportunity to test the ability of their active measures.

What is interesting about this possible motivation is that there is little evidence to suggest that any time Soviet/Russian active measures favored a candidate, the candidate ended up favoring the Kremlin.

In 1968, the Soviet Union was worried that if Richard Nixon won the presidential election, Soviet-U.S. relations would suffer even more than if the Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey won.

Instead, Nixon acted somewhat favorably towards the Soviet state after being elected.

Even in painting form, Putin looks unhappy. Photo Credit: Nikolay Volnov/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“The candidate that they often seek to undermine may not be so bad for Russian relations,” Wohlforth said.

The opposite can be said as well – it may have been easier for Secretary Clinton to act more favorably towards Russia than President Trump, who has received a mass of scrutiny for even just speaking favorably about Putin or Russia.

The true motivations behind Russia’s most recent active measures may never be known – needless to say, it is impossible to get inside the head of Putin.

Russia’s current posture towards the United States is not new – and the medium through which they acted is – and in truth, this behavior is not limited to Russia.

These actions are unlikely to stop anytime soon.

America is under siege.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: michael kooiman/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The US Government Has Failed The World On The Ubiquitous Use of Cluster Bombs

In conflict zones spanning the globe, several factions are utilizing various types of “cluster munitions”.

Unlike ordinary explosives, which are a one and done affair, cluster munitions are a type of warhead that is far more insidious. They disperses bomblets, thus peppering an area with the loaded munitions.

This is problematic due to the tendency of some of the bomblets to not detonate immediately.

These unexploded ordinance can later detonate, and shred civilians in their wake.

Laos for instance has suffered heavily from unexploded cluster bombs in the decades since the American war in Vietnam.

As a result the UN passed a resolution banning the use of cluster munitions in 2008.

As is often the case, the United States is not a signatory to the convention, but has desisted from using cluster munitions, and the White House has blocked the sale of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia, who has been using them in the war in Yemen.

This was after damning accusations by Human Rights Watch, claiming that Riyadh was even using cluster bombs in urban areas.

However, Saudi Arabia is joined by: Russia and Ukraine, the Libyan National Army, Sudan, and Russia and Al-Assad in Syria, who are potentially field testing a new variety of cluster bomb, according to War is Boring.

The American Government, has been largely silent on the use of cluster munitions.

While the sale of cluster munitions blocked by the President was nearly unnecessary due to a close fight in the House, this slight reaction was only triggered following Saudi airstrikes on urban centers.

A slap on the wrist for a customer and ally, but no condemnation for the many other actors who use cluster munitions on civilian centers.

Whilst the United States is not a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Bombs, this would not be the first time the United States has acted to enforce international law it is not a de jure party to.

The dispute in the South China Sea is one largely over the arcane minutia of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), of which the United States is not party to, due to vague arguments regarding sovereignty.

Nevertheless, the United States largely abides by the conditions of UNCLOS, and has demonstrated its determination to not recognize China’s maritime claims, based on the text of UNCLOS.

In the words of the late International Law scholar Lewis Henkin;

“Almost all nations observe almost all principles of international law and almost all of their obligations almost all of the time.”

If the cost of doing business is to adhere to certain laws and norms, then states will adhere to those laws and norms in all but extraordinary cases.

It then should be surprising that the United States has not used either the Convention on Cluster Munitions, or its own invented doctrine of no use in civilian areas, as a rhetorical stick to hit its adversaries hard and often.

Fear of hypocrisy has not deterred the American Government from criticizing bad actors before, and even more so when decades of damage to civilian populations is guaranteed by inaction.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: Mario Micklisch/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

“Why Die for Danzig?”: What Trump Has In Common With Other Far Right Leaders

Throughout the Western world, there have been groups sympathizing with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s return to “traditional values” and utilization of bellicose activity to alter conditions in other countries.

This has included a rejection of anything remotely “Western”, be it existing borders, or the well established fact that condoms severely limit the transmission of STIs.

This appeal to “traditional values” jives very well with other populist right parties in the West, who believe their way of life is under assault from: immigrants, the LGBT+ movement, and the world order established in the aftermath of the Second World War.

France’s National Front has advocated for: overturning French recognition of same sex marriages and adoption, severe strengthening immigration controls, and a strong rolling back free trade in favor of French made products.

The National Front also advocates for reorienting away from most of its European allies in favor of Russia.  Incidentally, Russian banks have loaned National Front millions of euros.

The American nativist movement, including the infamous “Alt Right”, share many of the views of their French counterparts.

The American nativist movement has a strong interest in carrying out Mr. Trump’s proposed: temporary ban on Muslim immigration, general tightening of the southern border through increased barriers to immigration, skepticism of the merits of free trade, and hostility to honoring American security guarantees in both Europe and in East Asia.

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UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), is one of the least radical of the populist Right parties, as one of its only defining issues is withdrawing from the EU.

However, party leader Nigel Farage has expressed some admiration with Vladimir Putin in the past, and an appreciable fraction of rank and file UKIPers share this view.

Other populist right parties share these views, and methods.  Some, like National Front’s Jean-Marie Le Pen have endorsed their colleagues in other countries.

This mutual affinity among ideological fellow travelers carries over to Vladimir Putin.

A well documented game of international footsie has taken place between Putin and Trump, due to their mutual dislike of the European security system, and appreciation of “strong leaders”.

On other issues the populist right concur, to the detriment of European security. Trump has given some signs he would be open to Brexit, Marine Le Pen, intends to campaign in Britain for Brexit, and while the Kremlin has been largely silent, disintegration of the European system may lead to an unraveling of other portions.

On the issue of the war in Syria, the populist right stays in relative lock step.

Nigel Farage, who has previously expressed disdain for R2P inspired efforts, has supported cooperation with both Al-Assad and Russia in combating Islamic State, despite the Syrian regime being consistently the number one killer of non-combatants. Donald Trump has also said he “back’s Putin 100%”.

As the civil war in Syria is ongoing, and the Putin backed Assad regime continues to target civilians, this vast coalition is endorsing the continuation of the refugee crisis, which fuels anti immigrant sentiment in the West.

All parties benefit from this arrangement.

Europe’s far right gets into power, and the Russians create fissures in the Western security apparatus.

The words of French Neo-Socialist, and Vichy France official, Marcel Déat may be repeated with their original intent if the collaboration movement continues on its dangerous path.  “Why die for Danzig?”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Fighterjocks From Portland Are In Finland Right Now, Spooking The Russians

Some American flyboys are in Finland this month, in an effort to remind Russian President Vladimir Putin where his country’s borders really are.

The 123rd Fighter Squadron, based out of Portland, Oregon, is participating in exercises in Finland over the course of this month.

The F-15Cs of the 123rd will be assisting in improving the readiness of the Finnish Air Force, who has seen an increase in its necessity due to an increase in Russian airspace violations of sovereign airspace.

Finland is not a member of NATO, but has been a participant in the Partnership for Peace program, as well as assisting in ISAF operations in Afghanistan, and participating in NATO exercises, as demonstrated below.

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has solidified North American and European security interests to a degree that may even exceed that of the height of the Cold War.

This in turn has lead to an interest among some to extend the NATO security umbrella.

This has led most recently to Montenegro’s invitation to the alliance, and some suggestions that Sweden and Finland consider alliance membership.

Both Sweden and Finland have historically followed a policy of neutrality, but this has not been entirely adhered to.

Sweden has had intelligence sharing agreements with NATO states since 1954, as well as relying on NATO capabilities in the event of war against the Soviet Union, and in more recent times against simulated Russian airstrikes.

Both countries participate in NATO exercises, and operations, as well as having strong relations with both Denmark and Norway; both founding members of the Atlantic Alliance.

However, the two countries are not equally open to formally joining the alliance.

The Swedish public has rapidly shifted in favor of NATO membership, with 41% in favor, 39% opposed, and 20% undecided as of late 2015.  While Finnish support for NATO membership is at a historical high, only 27% support membership.

This is why the American deployment of aircraft into non ally Finland is such a strong signal.

 The Americans may be showing a preview of the kind of commitment they would offer if Finland joined NATO.

By creating stronger military and diplomatic ties with Finland through interactions between the 123rd with Finnish units, and other NATO-Finland interactions, the case for affiliation becomes more concrete.

That does not make the Portland based unit’s sale easy.

Greater affiliation with the EU and NATO has historically lead to an increase in likelihood for Russian counter actions, ala the 2008 Russia-Georgia War, and the two year old ongoing fiasco in Ukraine.

It is essentially out of the question that Finland join without Sweden, or vice versa. In addition to the two countries having strong historical ties, as well as sharing a highly convenient border to ferry troops and material over in the event of Russian intervention into Finland, while Sweden joining with Finland might trigger a response against neutral Finland, in order to guarantee buffer space against the perceived NATO threat.

The Oregon Air National Guard is thus pulling double duty in appealing to both the remaining non aligned Scandinavian countries, as well as improving Finland’s unilateral readiness.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: cryogenic666/Flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

Militarism Is Back In Vogue Around The World And It Should Scare The Shit Out Of Us

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, published its most recent report on world wide military expenditures earlier this week.

Two headlines of the report pop out as significant.

The first is that Saudi Arabia has overtaken Russia in military spending, with $87.2 billion to Russia’s $66.4 billion, being behind only the United States and China, at $596 billion and $215 billion respectively.  The second is that, beyond the Western Hemisphere and Africa, worldwide military spending is on the rise.

These figures can be paired with known geopolitical trends and instances in order to project what particular actors may be thinking, as well as what is the world’s security zeitgeist.

First, the somewhat surprising figure of Saudi Arabia overtaking Russia in defense spending.

Russia has been working to modernize its armed forces through: professionalization, doctrinal evolution, and working to achieve technological parity with the West (particularly, but not exclusively, in electronic warfare, unmanned vehicles, and force projection).

Indeed, Moscow has been consistently increasing its defense spending since the 2000’s, into the current year.

However, in real terms, the Russian military budget has remained largely stable.  This is due to the fact that the Ruble is approximately half its value at the onset of the Ukrainian adventure.

A Ruble just isn’t worth what it used to be.

As a result, Russia’s modernization efforts are slowed for the foreseeable future, perhaps to be completed in the 2020s.

This is in contrast with Saudi Arabia’s large scale investment in weaponry to balance against Iran.

This is most noble in the three year old Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force, first displaying this deterrent power in 2014, as well as procuring nearly $1.3 billion in American munitions.

These purchases seem to indicate that Saudi intends to keep Iran at arms length in the event of hostilities, utilizing its overwhelming number of missiles.

Iran in turn, due to the lifting of EU and US sanctions, will likely attempt to counter these Saudi gains.

Of course, Saudi and Russia are not the only ones preparing for conflict.

Asia leads the way in new defense spending, with $436 billion in new spending region wide.

This is driven in large part China’s need to deter American intervention in its periphery.  Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam also increased their spending in response to China’s bellicose enforcement of its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Afghan National Army soldiers drill in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, November of 2008. Photo Credit: Afghanistan Matter/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Afghan National Army soldiers drill in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, November of 2008. Photo Credit: Afghanistan Matter/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Europe is also continuing its trend of increased spending, in light of the Ukraine Crisis.  NATO’s biggest European spenders, Germany, France, and the UK, did not drive any growth.

But some of the Baltic states have built up their militaries.

This is likely due to the perceived threat of future Russian attempts to secure buffer space against the stronger alliance members, and unease about the Americans honoring their security agreements.

The outliers also a tell a story of the global arms buildup.

The Western Hemisphere is largely conflict free due to an end of the Cold War, and other imperialist interventions into Latin America largely subsiding after the Roosevelt administration’s attempt at being a “good neighbor”.

American hegemony over the region is uncontested.

Africa, despite being rife with conflict in: Libya, the Sinai, the West Coast, Somalia, Sudan, and the Congo, is largely devoid of great power politics.  Thus, large scale trends of regional military investment are not necessary.

These trends seem to indicate that military spending is increasingly becoming an acceptable investment of revenue in light of perceived dangers for nations from activist states.

This is potentially worrying, as periods of militarism tend to precede periods of conflict.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!

Cover Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Far Right In Germany Is Starting To Rise Again And It Should Worry Us All

Germany and the far right of the political spectrum do not historically mix.

So why is it that a party of the far right (granted, one not nearly as radical or hate-filled as the Nazi Party was) is picking up steam in the largest and most powerful European Union country?

In recent weeks, the Alternative for Germany (AFD) has achieved regional representation in eight German states. There are 16 German states in total.

AFD is a far right populist party in a similar vein as the National Front in France and UKIP in the United Kingdom.

The ragtag party has managed to bite at the heels of the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), and appears to be gaining popularity across the country.

This is largely due to the anti immigration platform of the party in response to Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s policies on resettling refugees, primarily from Syria.

AFD has a unique opportunity for swift gains due to its novel position on the political spectrum.

A pro right wing backlash has been felt across the West, be it the Tea Party or Euroskeptics, but AFD has been making attempts at separating itself from the most extreme elements of German political life.

On the party’s official site, AFD disowns the support of NPD, a far right party infamous for its ties strong association with Nazis in both a fashion sense and in antisemitism.

According to the Q&A section of the party’s website, the AFD breaks with the ranks of other far right parties by being in support of continued German participation in both the EU and NATO, though with caveats to both of these organizations that favor a more independent foreign policy.


A German man walking with a beer. Photo Credit: Alexander Mueller/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

AFD also voices disapproval of TTIP (a proposed free trade agreement between the United States and Europe), subsidies for energy research, while favoring “re-nationalizing” of the banking sector, and promoting marriage between men and women as “politically desirable”.

All of these positions seem to indicate that AFD is interested in focusing inward, and is not particularly hostile to longstanding German policy.

Despite this resemblance closer to the American Republican Party than particularly sinister right wing parties like PEGIDA, the party has been moved more so to the extreme by the Party’s president Frauke Petry, who has brought anti-immigration rhetoric and closer ties to the Kremlin to the forefront of its public perception.

This will likely only continue due to the departure of the party’s moderating influence, Bernd Lucke, cofounder of AFD, left the party in 2015 when ousted from the party presidency by Petry.

Lucke founded another Euroskeptic party Alliance for Progress and Renewal (ALFA), and complained that  AFD had grown far too xenophobic.

RISE NEWS  is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!

Cover Photo Credit: Martin Fisch/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

James Blunt Prevented World War III Once, But He Probably Won’t Next Time

It is understandable that following the conclusion of the Cold War, the consideration of nuclear conflict subsided to some degree among policy makers and the general public.

However, while the overall number of nuclear weapons has decreased, the number of actors and potential actors with nuclear weapons is quite larger than at the height of the Cold War.

This overall leaves us with a greater likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons, though not all of the potential scenarios are apocalyptic affairs, which can only increase their likelihood.

The most obvious interstate nuclear scenario is an exchange between India and Pakistan, as the two have fought several wars and skirmishes.

Pakistan in particular has expressed interest in theater nuclear weapons in the event of Indian forces seizing Pakistani territory, as per “Cold Start”.

This is problematic, as India has stated it will use nuclear weapons “in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere.”

Anywhere would presumably include 50-80 Kms inside Pakistan, leaving millions dead in the first 24 hours of a nuclear war in South Asia.

Read More: Why Pakistan Might Actually Nuke Itself

Despite these staggering numbers, India and Pakistan only have about 120 weapons each.

The truly frightening numbers come from Russia and the United States, who each have more weapons ready to fire than all the other nuclear powers have in total.

Historically, it is this alarming number of Weapons of Mass Destruction that is attributed as having prevented the outbreak of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

This fear of “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD) carries over to the present day, making an intentional strategic nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia unthinkable.

However, both the words “intentional” and “strategic” are highly weaselly and dangerous.

Near misses between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia have occurred alarmingly frequently.

The Cuban Missile Crisis is often considered both the high point and last point of likely intentional strategic nuclear exchange between the Cold War competitors, but it was far from the last near miss.

Accidental nuclear launches have been, and continue to be a major concern. An escalation of a conventional conflict could also conceivably result in nuclear war.

Such a scenario nearly occurred during the Kosovo War, and was narrowly averted by singer James Blunt [seriously], and is increasingly conceivable were “little green men” to appear in the Baltic States.

James Blunt, our hero. Photo Credit:  Eric Wüstenhagen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

James Blunt, our hero. Photo Credit: Eric Wüstenhagen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Were NATO to defeat the Russians in a conventional contest over the Baltic States, which is admittedly not a given outcome, the Russians might respond with what has been deemed as a “deescalatory” nuclear strike, which would use either long or short range nuclear weapons to target military targets anywhere from Europe to the continental United States, in order to bring the opposing force to the negotiating table.

Likely targets would include the NATO nuclear weapon states: the US, United Kingdom, and France as well as NATO allies who “share” US nuclear weapons: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey.

Notably, the use of nuclear weapons of any variety was tightened in Russia’s 2010 doctrinal document, but the risk of an escalation of a conventional conflict, or a tactical strike remains.

In addition to interstate conflict, non state actors are also a troubling consideration in regards to nuclear weapons.

Pakistan and India have traditionally been identified as potential sources for nuclear weapons or material to be stolen from, but great progress has been made on this front.

A less obvious, and thus more insidious, potential source for nuclear weapons is South Africa.

Armed men broke into the Pelindaba in 2007, only narrowly being scared off after stealing a cellphone.

It is unclear exactly what the objective of this raid was, but it was clearly planned well enough to account for disabling alarms and electric fences.

This leads some to believe that the objective was to steal enriched uranium.

Regardless of the specific threat, the prospect of nuclear conflict remains, and is arguably more likely than ever before.

Awareness of specific issues related to nuclear conflict, and how to contain that potential, should then be a priority of a public interested in avoiding the utilization and normalization of these weapons.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!

Photo Credit:Steve Snodgrass/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

The Russian Reversal: Why Would Putin Withdraw From Syria?

On Monday, March 14th, President Vladimir Putin announced rather suddenly that significant portions of the Russian expedition to Syria would be withdrawing.

Russia’s base in Latakia will not be closing, and the Kremlin has left open the possibility of returning the forces at a later date.

But a return of large scale Russian participation in the Syrian Civil War seems unlikely, due to the motive behind the initial deployment, the balance of power on the ground, and Russia’s risk averse nature due to its precarious military structure and capabilities as previously reported on by RISE NEWS.

Contrary to the claims of Kremlin mouthpieces and sympathizers, Russian airstrikes have been largely concentrated against the International Coalition backed FSA in the West of Syria, which is largely devoid of Islamic State forces.

Read More: Who Would the World Vote For As President of the United States?

As such, it is safe to assume that the Russian objective is to keep Bashar al-Assad in power, who could be indicted for crimes against humanity due to his use of chemical weapons“massive and systematised violence” against Syrian civilians, and the death by torture of at least ten foreign nationals.

As long as Assad remains in power, he stays out of the Hague, and this guarantees a continued Russian naval base in the Mediterranean Sea.

With the existing balance of power in Syria shifting towards the Assad regime, it is no longer necessary for the Kremlin to take such an active interest in the Syrian Civil War. As a result, the Kremlin gains a few things.

First, Western interests in Syrian Regime change are thwarted, giving the impression of significant Russian influence in the Middle East for the first time since the Yom Kippur War.

Second, the eventual conclusion of Russia’s involvement in Syria will make the argument for Putin as a benevolent actor easier for far right sympathizers like Le Pen, Farage, and Trump, by appealing to Putin’s supposed role in the eventual defeat of Islamic State. Lastly, a significant portion of Russia’s professional forces will no longer be tied down, which will give the Kremlin greater flexibility in influencing policy closer to Moscow.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!

Photo Credit: Sergey Vladimirov (CC by 2.0)

Obama Asks Putin To Stop Bombing “Moderate” Syrian Rebels

US President Barack Obama urged Russia on Sunday to stop bombing “moderate” rebels in Syria in support of its ally President Bashar al-Assad, a campaign seen in the West as a major obstacle to latest efforts to end the war. Major powers agreed on Friday to a limited cessation of hostilities in Syria but the deal… Read More

What It Is Like To Be Locked Up and Tortured by Putin’s Goons

This article first appeared on the Atlantic Council site. I am a Ukrainian citizen who was illegally arrested and detained by the Russian Federation for over a year for political reasons. Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov and others who are less known have suffered and continue to suffer the same fate. In May 2014, I was in… Read More

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