Date: 25 March 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

Syrian President Assad Arrives in Moscow Amid Ukrainian Sanctions and Russian Provocations in Syria

The visit of the Syrian dictator to Moscow coincided with an aggressive Russian campaign against the United States in Syria and Ukraine’s decision to blacklist some individuals and companies in Syria. The Middle Eastern country is strategically important to Moscow. Whatever happens in Ukraine, Russia will make efforts to maintain both political and military influence in Syria.


Russia is increasing tensions with the U.S. also in Syria. The U.S. Central Command said that officials had seen more “unprofessional” and “unsafe” behavior from Russian pilots in Syria since March 1. Gen. Michael Kurilla told a U.S. Senate committee that Russian aircraft had become emboldened to act aggressively toward U.S. bases in a way not typical of an organized military force. Russia and the United States ratcheted up their confrontational rhetoric over a Russian campaign to down U.S. drones in the Black Sea. The Russian-U.S. competition over Ukraine is an element of a new cold war between the two states, while the Mediterranean Sea and Syria are a new theater of their rivalry. Al-Assad’s trip to Moscow underpinned Moscow’s close ties with Damascus. Russia could recruit volunteers from the Middle East to be deployed alongside its troops in Ukraine. Damascus has been a staunch ally of Moscow since the latter invaded Ukraine last year, which has been met with a harsh response. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree on March 18, approving a proposal by the National Security and Defense Council to impose sanctions on 141 legal entities and 300 individuals, including Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Among the blacklisted legal entities are Russian research and production and shipbuilding enterprises, including the Kalashnikov and Almaz-Antey concerns. Zelensky’s decree coincided with Assad’s visit to the Russian capital. Bashar al-Assad has said he would welcome any Russian proposals to set up new military bases and boost troop numbers in the Middle Eastern country, suggesting Moscow’s military presence there should become permanent.

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TAGS: migration crisis, NATO, Belarus, Russia


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