14 March 2016
- The announced withdrawal highlights divergences between Iran, Syria, and Russia, and probably reflects Russia's intention to impose a compromise that might include federation or partition.
- Russia is likely to retain sufficient military presence to protect its core security interests, including its bases and core Syrian government areas in Damascus, Homs, and Latakia.
- The competing interests of a large number of potential 'spoilers' means that an agreement reached by the US and Russia, over the heads of regional and Syrian actors, risks breaking down rapidly.
Russia's military is once again a major source of concern to its neighbours, yet its army is regularly labelled a 'paper tiger' equipped with ancient equipment and overseen by dysfunctional command structures. Nick de Larrinaga reports on the true strength of the Russian Ground Forces.