Russian Military Draws Lessons From Ukraine and Syria Ops by Paul McLeary, Foreign Policy
… The fall of Aleppo will mark a major victory for both Assad and and his ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose 15-month intervention in the Syrian civil war was launched to prop up the faltering Assad regime under the guise of fighting the Islamic State.
But there was another reason for the campaign of Russian air strikes and special operations support: providing Moscow with a venue to show off its newly modernized military hardware.
After years of moldering away under post Cold war budget crunches, Putin has spent billions to modernize the Russian arsenal, churning out new tanks, submarines, drones, cruise missiles, and fighter jets that have pounded both Syrian rebels as well as Ukrainian troops in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region.
Speaking with senior military officers at the Kremlin on Wednesday, Putin said that the military should use those experiences to “equip the Army and the Navy with prospective weapons” for future fights.
While many are focused on the Russian armor and sorties, some in the U.S. defense establishment have noticed another sign of Russian progress: their ability to work through local forces in Ukraine and Syria, allowing Moscow to exert influence while keeping deployments small, costs down, and troops away from the front lines.
“The Russians have become quite adept at working with proxy forces,” a senior Defense official told FP. ”In Ukraine, it’s obviously the so-called separatist forces – Russian trained, Russian equipped, in some cases Russian commanded,” over which “they exercise an exquisite command and control.” …