1)Prestige. Russia intervention in Syria can be seen as an attempt to restore Russia’s international status as a great power. By getting militarily involved in the Syrian conflict Russia is likely to have a say in any negotiation aimed at solving the crisis. Shoring up a friendly Syrian regime will also allow Russia to maintain its military base in Syria (the only one the Russians have in the ME) and have a say in any future talk about ending the Arab-Israeli conflict (Syria has not technically ended its state of war with Israel).
2)Distraction. The Russian economy is not doing well mainly because of the combined effects of international sanctions and falling oil prices. Putin needs military interventions abroad to distract Russian public opinion and shore up his power domestically.
3)By showing resolve Putin is trying to embarass his american counterpart, President Obama.
1)Putin involved Russia in what might be an unwinnable conflict.
2)Potential terrorist blowback. By openly siding with the Syrian regime Russia has increasingly become a legit target for Islamic extremists.
3)Potential for an incident involving Russian and US-led coalition forces. If not handled carefully such an incident could have extremely serious consequences.
4)Sunni Arab backlash. Russia’s support for Assad’s Alawite regime has upset many Sunni Arab countries, especially the energy producing countries of the Gulf.
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