Policy Brief

The Ukraine Crisis and Russian Forces in Syria

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has not only created effects in the context of Eastern Europe or NATO-Russia relations, but also has consequences in regions where Russia has a direct military presence. In this sense, Syria has been one of the countries  most affected by the Russian intervention in Ukraine. As the most effective global actor in the Syrian civil war going on for more than 11 years, Russia’s Ukraine intervention has brought direct reflections to Syria. 

There are many problems that deeply affect  daily life in Syria, such as the problems in wheat and natural gas supply due to the Ukraine crisis. However, the most important effect in the long run would be the possibility of changing the balance of power in the field. In the Ukraine intervention, with the aim of using the experienced operational troops from Syria, Russia has withdrawn its soldiers from some regions in Syria or has tried to reduce their numbers. Regardless of the strategy underlying the mobilization of Russia's military presence in Syria, it can be said that Russia tends to reduce its military capacity. 

Since this situation will create a power gap in Syria, in which the crisis is still continuing, it also raises the question of who fills/will fill the gaps in  Russia. The prominence of the Iranian-backed militia at this point strengthens the possibility of reshaping the military balances in the Syrian field. In fact, the increase in  Iranian presence in the region may bring about more military engagement by the USA and Israel in the coming days. Such a situation may cause the Syrian crisis to enter a new phase and  prolong the current state of war.