The shadow of Russia’s Afghan disaster hovers over Syria

A further complication in Syria, yet one that plays to Moscow’s advantage, lies in its relationship with the region’s equally diverse powers. Countries such as Israel and Turkey, all deeply vested in the Syrian conflict, regard Russia as a credible interlocutor and a buffer to Iranian aspirations.

Further differing the current conflict from its Afghan predecessor is the extent of Russia’s deployment. The Moscow discussion group Valdai said that as of 2017 Russia’s military commitment to Syria extended only so far as special forces units, 25 aircraft and helicopters, SU-35 fighter jets, air defence, police and engineering troops. All told, a figure markedly short of the 30,000 or so troops sent to Afghanistan in 1979.