The Washington Post reports: As Russia turned the Syrian conflict into an exhibition ground for its newly robust military over the past six months, its neighbors were watching with rapt interest.
This, after all, was a sterling opportunity to assess Russia’s new battlefield capabilities, in the form of ship-based cruise missiles, improved logistics and elite units. And on display, too, were Russia’s weaknesses.
“It is like a game of football,” said Janis Berzins, the managing director at the Center for Security and Strategic Research of the National Defense Academy of Latvia, a NATO member nation that borders Russia. “If you’re playing against Germany, then you go watch Germany play, right? It’s the natural thing to do.”
No one expects Russia and NATO to engage in a conventional war anytime soon. But with limited, consequential interventions in two conflicts, Ukraine and Syria, in the past two years, President Vladimir Putin had shown the Russian military’s growing proficiency as well as his appetite to use force to achieve his greater geopolitical goals. [Continue reading…]