In an article focused on Russia, the author calls into question the true motives, or the true end goals, of Russia in regard to its activities in Ukraine and Syria. Largely, it draws attention to the fact that Russia has fulfilled to an extent its five main goals related to Syria, all of which relate to stopping regime change and showcasing Russia’s power and strength as an ally. In addition, its overarching goal to protect the government of its ally Bashar al-Assad has also been in a sense successful. As for Ukraine, Russia plans to maintain an implement a peace agreement that has been around for about a year.
Although these are true, renewed fighting in Russian-backed regions of Ukraine suggest a continued desire to weaken and topple the Ukrainian government. Putin aims to deepen cracks in the EU consensus of economic sanctions against Russia, in response to its annexation of Crimea. In Syria, Russia continues to be involved, and although US allies are being asked to stop fighting Assad, Russia continues to target American-backed rebels.
So, what is the real message? Russia is trying to radiate an image of power. It continues to show power in Ukraine, it continually stays involved to protect an ally – both now and in the future (by preventing regime change), and it creates an image of power for its constituents. Is the true motivation what the state says – protecting Assad, fighting ISIS, maintaining peace in Ukraine? Or, is the true motivation an aspiration for a greater role of power in the international community?