Russia's military campaign against ISIS fighters in Syria began over a year ago. So far about 3,800 civilians were killed by Russian airstrikes. About a quarter of those people, were children. Not only is Russia being accused of war crimes, but according to data from the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Russia has killed more civilians than ISIS fighters. Some may be wondering as to why Putin is interested in launching an assault on ISIS. Besides the fact that he supports the Bashar al-Assad regime, since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War.  

The theories of Russia's political intentions in Syria

One theory could be that, Vladimir Putin launched a military operation in Syria, due to the sanctions imposed on Russia, by the Western powers.

A way to break away from the isolation, and begin the process of diplomatic reconciliation, is to combat a common enemy. That enemy, at the moment, is global terrorism. After the events in Paris and Brussels, media coverage shifted their focus away from the Ukraine, and more towards the atrocities that were committed by Islamic extremists. These events served as a perfect distraction from what is happening in Eastern Ukraine, perhaps temporarily. Russia is looking for international support, and Putin received that support from countries like Israel, China and Iran, through the intervention in Syria. One other theory is starting a proxy war in Syria, to aggravate the United States. However, this could not be true, because both nations strongly oppose the actions of ISIS. The last theory has to do with the fact that Vladimir Putin wants the world to see Russia's military power.

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He wants to showcase that power and Syria is the perfect platform. Russia has not been regarded as a political force since the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

What Putin is trying to achieve through the military intervention in Syria?

Russia states that they intend to protect the Assad regime in Syria. The Russian government also intends to show their people that they are not a pushover. Putin will have the Russian people on his side if he portrays himself as a powerful leader. The intervention in Crimea came at a time in which Putin had started to lose popularity among the Russian people. The youth began protesting in marches across Moscow and Saint Petersburg, demanding a better quality of life. Syria could just be a platform for Putin to gain support for his United Russia Party. With the presidential elections coming up in 2018, Putin needs the people to be by his side. At the moment Vladimir Putin has an approval rating of 80 percent. That number is declining as Russia is in a recession, at the moment. For Russia's leader, an intervention in Syria is more about gaining internal political support, rather than fighting global terrorism.