NEW YORK, February 24. /TASS/. By making an agreement with the US on a truce in Syria as of February 27, Russia has achieved its main objectives in that area, The New York Times said on Tuesday.
"Russia sent up to 50 combat aircraft to an air base near the coastal Syrian city of Latakia in September, along with more than 4,000 troops to protect them," it wrote. "In that move, Russia was seen as having five main goals: stopping regime change abetted from outside the country; thwarting plans by Washington to isolate Moscow; proving that Russia was a more solid ally than the United States; showcasing new Russian weapons; and presenting a new foreign policy spectacle to a Russian public weary of the war in neighboring Ukraine."
It indicated that all the five to objectives had been attained to one extent or another. "In Syria, Russia achieved its main goal of shoring up the government of President Bashar al-Assad, long the Kremlin’s foremost Arab ally," the article said.
The daily recalled President Vladimir Putin's television interview on Monday where he underscored the importance of joint Russian-American efforts in Syria.
"Mr. Putin wanted to make clear that Russia’s intervention in Syria would avoid the kind of catastrophic collapse that occurred in Iraq, Libya and Yemen, lumped together improbably with the American-backed "color revolutions" in Ukraine in 2004 and Georgia in 2003," the daily said. "Syria, he said, could serve as an example of responsible actions."
It also quoted analysts believing that Russia wanted to keep up its presence in Syria "long enough to supervise the transition to a new government in Syria; to ensure that Damascus remains a friendly capital; and to show that a political transition can be achieved through negotiations, not regime change."
It quoted Dr. Alexander Shumilin, a senior expert on the Middle East at the Russian Academy of Sciences as saying the endgame for Russia was "to move to the political process from the position of strength."
"Nobody can tell you how long it will last," he said. "This will depend on the situation, which is very complicated at the moment."
An objective that Moscow will have to achieve now is the revoking of sanctions, which the EU and the US introduced over the events in Ukraine, the NYT said that the EU was developing cracks on the problem of sanctions "like a badly glazed pot".