Russia's Ego Is Geopolitical

English: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria . ...
English: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria . Original background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Russia is such a huge country geographically, never mind it has fewer people than Pakistan, never mind its economy is smaller than India's, but the largest country in the world, geographically speaking, feels the need to prove it is a military superpower on par with the United States. China, on the other hand, has no qualms that its global prestige can not exceed its economic might, and so stays economy focused. A large population can make you do that. Grow or get challenged, from inside. There is also a hunger among ordinary Russians for someone like Putin, someone who will make them feel like the superpower they were.

Geopolitics is very real. All large countries have spheres of influence, just like Jupiter's gravity is felt on its moons. Russia's geopolitical pull will still hold to be true should some day Russia become a democracy in the western sense of the word.

Russia is a big country: deal with it.

Russian Military Uses Syria as Proving Ground, and West Takes Notice
a public demonstration of new weaponry, tactics and strategy. ..... The strikes have involved aircraft never before tested in combat ..... a ship-based cruise missile fired more than 900 miles from the Caspian Sea, which, according to some analysts, surpasses the American equivalent in technological capability. ...... might soon back an Iranian-led offensive that appeared to be forming in the northern province of Aleppo ......

months of meticulous planning behind Russia’s first military campaign outside former Soviet borders since the dissolution of the Soviet Union

..... a little-noticed — and still incomplete — modernization that has been underway in Russia for several years, despite strains on the country’s budget......

Putin had overseen the most rapid transformation of the country’s armed forces since the 1930s.

..... Russia’s fighter jets are, for now at least, conducting nearly as many strikes in a typical day against rebel troops opposing the government of President Bashar al-Assad as the American-led coalition targeting the Islamic State has been carrying out each month this year....... an increasingly confrontational and defiant Russia under Mr. Putin ...... the operation could be intended to send a message to the United States and the West about the restoration of the country’s military prowess and global reach after decades of post-Soviet decay. ....... we are going to school on what the Russian military is capable of today.” ....... Russian military spending .. has surged to its highest level in a quarter-century, reaching $81 billion, or 4.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product ...... Moscow’s largest deployment to the Middle East since the Soviet Union deployed in Egypt in the 1970s. ....... their ability to move a lot of stuff real far, real fast ...... Russia is not only bringing some of its most advanced hardware to the fight, it has also deployed large field kitchens and even dancers and singers to entertain the troops — all signs that Moscow is settling in for the long haul ...... American officials say Russia has closely coordinated with its allies to plan its current fight. .......... the Russians are already harvesting lessons from the campaign to apply to their other military operations .....

“Russia is using their incursion into Syria as an operational proving ground.”

Putin Says U.S. Fails to Cooperate in Syria
suggesting that they had “mush for brains.” ..... widespread accusations in the West that Russian warplanes were targeting practically every group opposed to the Syrian government except the Islamic State ...... “Recently, we have offered the Americans: ‘Give us objects that we shouldn’t target.’ Again, no answer,” he said. “It seems to me that some of our partners have mush for brains.” ...... Aside from propping up Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s staunchest regional ally, the Russian government is believed to be motivated by the idea of ending its international isolation stemming from the Ukraine crisis. It also wants to be treated as an equal partner by the West in addressing the intractable problems facing Syria, which include the spread of the Islamic State extremist group and the need to shape a political transition to end the civil war that has killed at least 250,000 people and displaced millions. ........ For more than four years, the government has held central Damascus while shelling the poorer towns ringing the city, where many residents were among the first to rebel against Mr. Assad. ....... a call by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, for revenge attacks against Russia. ...... urged jihadists from the Caucasus to kill one Russian for every Syrian who had died. ...... He said the horrors to be visited on the Russians would overwhelm the memories of what happened to them in Afghanistan in the 1980s. ..... Jambulat Umarov, the foreign and information minister for Chechnya, also in the Caucasus, called the group “obsolete” and bragged that his region of Russia was the only place in the world that had gained the upper hand against Islamic militants....... Both Russia and the United States have said that the Islamic State is the target of their attacks in Syria. Russia also maintains that removing Mr. Assad now will bring chaos, a position that the West and regional states reject.
U.S. Weaponry Is Turning Syria Into Proxy War With Russia
Insurgent commanders say that since Russia began air attacks in support of the Syrian government, they are receiving for the first time bountiful supplies of powerful American-made antitank missiles. ...... the Syrian conflict is edging closer to an all-out proxy war between the United States and Russia. ..... The increased levels of support have raised morale on both sides of the conflict, broadening war aims and hardening political positions, making a diplomatic settlement all the more unlikely. ..... Spirits are rising on the government side as well. Weapons and morale are “at a new level,” said an official with the newly revived alliance of Russia, Iran and the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah that is fighting on the behalf of Damascus. ..... the alliance is seeking something closer to victory. The aim now is to retake Syrian land that had been given up for lost, take the ouster of Mr. Assad off the table for good and reach a far more advantageous political solution after establishing “new facts on the ground.” ...... One official with a rebel group that is fighting in Hama called the supply “carte blanche.” “We can get as much as we need and whenever we need them,” he said ...... “By bombing us, Russia is bombing the 13 ‘Friends of Syria’ countries,” he said, referring to the group of the United States and its allies that called for the ouster of Mr. Assad after his crackdown on political protests in 2011. ..... Russian attack helicopters swoop low over fields, seemingly close enough to touch, then veer upward to unleash barrages of rockets, flares and heavy machine-gun fire. Explosions pepper distant villages, with smoke rising over clusters of houses as narrators declare progress against


....... Both Russia and the United States have declared they are fighting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, but the two global powers support opposite sides in the battle between Mr. Assad and the Syrians who rebelled against his rule.