Russia Won’t Save Assad

by Patrick Appel

Should America bomb Syria, Julia Ioffe bets that Russia won’t stand in our way:

Russia sells weapons to Assad and supports him financially, but it won’t tell him what to do, nor does it want to. It’s also probably none too happy that Assad has pushed the envelope so obviously and so gruesomely because now Russia has to strut around doing its usual, increasingly ridiculous song and dance to give him cover, insisting on absolute unknowability and absolute precision as to whether and when chemical weapons were used. But it won’t retaliate if the U.S. strikes, mostly because there’s not all that much it can do, and because Syria is still far smaller in the Kremlin’s imagination than it is in the White House’s. Moreover, Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s übertan foreign minister, said as much today. “But, of course,” he said, “we’re not going to war with anyone” over Syria.

So Russia may veto any U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria and make a rhetorical fuss about suddenly caring about international law, but it won’t get in America’s way once the Tomohawks are streaking towards Damascus. More likely, it will just grumble on the sidelines.