How Putin is using Syria to distract Russians from issues closer to home

The New York Times reports: A funny thing happened on the way to the United Nations General Assembly, where President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia will speak on Monday for the first time in 10 years.

In the weeks leading up to the meeting, the war in Ukraine all but disappeared from the state-run television channels that monopolize news coverage in Russia. In its place: War in Syria!

There was Dmitry Kiselyov, the infamous news anchor who repeatedly accused Washington of plotting every step of the Ukraine crisis, instead damning the Islamic State. “The barbarian caliphate in the Middle East is an absolute evil, slithering in the direction of Russia,” he said, “But we have a firm ally in the Middle East: Syria. To surrender it means inviting terrorists to come to us.”

With that, Mr. Kiselyov introduced a report by a prominent war correspondent, formerly stationed in eastern Ukraine, who filed the latest in a series of dispatches suggesting that the valiant Syrian military could not win on its own.

The Kremlin’s effort to change the conversation at home to Syria marks an important, if ultimately temporary, shift. It shows that Mr. Putin’s military and diplomatic moves leading up to the United Nations meeting are aimed as much at his domestic audience as the international front. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email