The die is cast. Putin has authorised the dispatch of arms to Syria in support of Bashar Al Assad’s regime against “the terrorist threat that has reached unprecedented levels in Syria and in the neighbouring Iraq. It has been stated by Maria Zakharova, the spokesman of the Russian ministry of foreign affairs. This is a decision that is likely to trigger a dangerous domino effect in the diplomatic relations with the West, that are already difficult enough. Washington fears a strengthening of Russia’s military presence in the middle-east country as well as a possible crack in its relations with Iran (Damascus’ historical ally) which has already opened its airspace to Russian aircrafts. But Zarkhaova has stressed that the means of war sent by Moscow are conforming to the “international law”.
Those reassurances, however, do not satisfy the United States, nervous due to lack of clarity in Russia’s intentions. Also because the arrival of Russian soldiers and weapons in Syria might not stop at this point. In case “additional measures to increase support of the war on terrorism are needed – has added Zakharova – Moscow will make “a proper assessment of the question”, on the basis of international regulations and Russian laws”. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister had reiterated during a phone call with the US secretary of state, John Kerry, that “it is necessary to reject terrorist groups that have occupied a considerable part of Syria and which are threatening international security”. According to military and technical sources cited by the Russian daily Kommersant, Moscow seems to have sent firearms, grenade launchers, and armoured vehicles meant to transport the military men, supplies that are “in line with the international law and in line with all of the formal acts and existing contracts” between the Russian and the Syrian governments.
Military aid sent by Moscow will be able to offer a “significant contribution” to the fight against the Islamic State. As the President Vladimir Putin has pointed out himself, Russia provides a “substantial support” to Syria in terms of equipment, training, and armaments. In any case, the Russian military experts – has emphasized Zakharova – were not sent in Syria in order to partake in military operations in the country; their role there is merely that of “advisors”. Yet, tensions with the NATO remain: according to the general secretary of the Atlantic alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, Moscow’s involvement – if it is confirmed – will surely not help to solve the conflict. Meanwhile, the United States accuse Assad’s regime of being responsible for the refugee crisis currently happening in the Mediterranean and invoke a “diplomatic solution” as well as the expulsion of the rais.