Aaron David Miller writes: As go Putin’s fortunes, so go those of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. However the crisis turns out, with one possible exception, the Syrian regime is likely to benefit. And that exception is the highly unlikely contingency that Putin is so weakened from a botched policy in Ukraine or an uncharacteristically bold response from the United States and the West that he is permanently damaged and diminished, or removed from power. Not likely.
The possibility that events in Ukraine will leave Putin victorious will only buck up al-Assad further and demonstrate that Russian street cred is rising. After all, in September, Putin masterfully intervened and used diplomacy to stay a U.S. military response against al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians.
Now Putin appears to be standing up to the international community and ready to use force to protect Russia’s interests in Ukraine. He’s clearly not prepared to do that for Syria. But victories for Russia, particularly in the face of the West’s empty rhetoric and red lines, can only reinforce al-Assad’s conviction that he’s betting on the right ally.