Colucci analyzes Russia’s foreign policy in the Middle East

Associate Professor of Politics and Government Lamont Colucci has published a new article on The Weekly Standard, showcasing the opposing nature of President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s doctrines.

In The Putin Doctrine in Action, Colucci writes: “As the Obama doctrine is a tortured pathway of penance, contrition, and risk aversion designed to manage the decline of the United States abroad, the Putin doctrine is a decisive, calculating attempt to imperialize Russian foreign policy in order to re-establish Russia as a strategic and economic hub of power,” citing Putin’s aggressive rejection of NATO expansion and American influence in Russia.

“Perhaps the best case study of the Putin Doctrine is in Syria,” Colucci writes. “He outmaneuvered the president of the United States with his formula to ‘get rid of’ Syrian chemical weapons. This blunted the international criticism of Bashar al-Assad, made Putin look diplomatic and worldly, muted recognition of the massive deaths caused by Assad’s conventional arms, and in the event didn’t even require Assad to get rid of all the chemical weapons that Assad had and continues to use. This was step one. We now are observing step two: the Russian reentry into the Middle East in force.”

Colucci writes that from 1955 onward Russia depended on Syria for two things: naval access to the Mediterranean via a base in Syria, and a foothold for further foreign policy in the Middle East. He cites recent additions to a Russian airbase in the Syrian city of Latakia as further proof. “Satellite images also show Russia is intensifying its military presence through construction at two Syrian military facilities near the Mediterranean coast. Advanced combat aircraft such as the SU-25 and the flying tank Hind helicopter, and the SA-22 air defense system, are in the works, if not already deployed. It’s hard to see that this particular type of military hardware is going to be utilized for the stated goal of Putin, that of fighting the Islamic insurgents.”

Colucci is skeptical of the Russian’s intent. He believes Putin is more interested in establishing permanent military power in the Middle East, as Russia tried to do with Afghanistan in 1979. “But unlike Afghanistan, the Russians can achieve this goal today, with a fraction of the cost in money, lives and time. A presence in Syria also puts them in proximity for their future relations with the Iranians. This is the kind of event that signals a geopolitical shift.”


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