President Vladimir Putin’s decision to begin the withdrawal of most of his forces from Syria is sensible. Having stabilized the Assad regime and reestablished Moscow’s role as a player in the Middle East, his move also reduces the danger that the Russians could suffer a politically disastrous defeat or else are dragged more deeply into the conflict.
A recent Wikistrat wargame underlines these conclusions.
Last month, 60 Wikistrat analysts wargamed a scenario of regime change in Syria and explored the likelihood and consequences of an increased Russian commitment therein. The overall conclusion of more than 150 policy options created by Wikistrat’s analysts was that while Russia could hardly sit out such a red-line event, an increased presence in Syria would represent both a political and military risk that Putin is not likely to take.
The caution exhibited by the analysts playing Russia — even in such an extreme scenario as violent regime change — was a clear indication that absent major shocks, the reverse (a decreasing presence) was the more likely path for Russia to take. Read More →