MESOP : UNITED STATES NAVAL RESEARCH INSTITUTION What Russia’s Military Withdrawal Means for Fight against ISIS, Assad Regime” (Daniel Trombly, USNI News)

“It will be easier to assess the relevant salience of resource constraints and diplomatic motives for Russia’s withdrawal announcement as the actual implementation and the regime’s reaction to it unfolds. A fast and relatively larger withdrawal of resources would suggest the importance of resource constraints, or resource tradeoffs if further escalation follows in Ukraine or other theaters of military importance to Russia. A reduced profile for Russian forces but relatively limited relocation would highlight the diplomatic signaling aspects, while the measure of its effect on Assad concessions to Russian interests will be more apparent in its approach to the ceasefire and reaction to developments in peace talks.

Regardless, the announcement does not lend itself to a monocausal explanation. As for its success, there are many potential spoilers for a deftly-managed negotiation that preserves the Syrian state. Inter-rebel competition could drive some groups back to the battlefield to undermine rivals that benefit from peace. A tenacious ISIS defense could drag out that aspect of war longer than Moscow prefers. The Assad regime may not fall in line with Russian objectives and try to bring Russia back to the battlefield. As U.S. observers should know, a graceful withdrawal from a foreign civil war is much more easily announced than accomplished.” Read all