Less than six months ago, Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces into Syria to aid his ally, dictator Bashar al-Assad. Now, Putin is withdrawing said troops and declaring victory. While a ceasefire has been called, World Affairs Journal's Michael J. Totten writes that Putin did not achieve the victory he is claiming, and that Syria will continue to be a problem in the Middle East:
“The effective work of our military created the conditions for the start of the peace process,” Putin said.
Oh, there’s a cease-fire in place, but there is virtually no chance it’s going to hold. Sporadic fighting persists, and it’s only a matter of time before it mushrooms again...
Leaving at a time of relative quiet is a wise decision on Putin’s part. Syria is a smoldering crater right now, but it’s calmer than usual, and his ally Assad is safe for the moment. Withdrawing today doesn’t look like a defeat. On the contrary, he’s made everybody opposed to him look like a chump. No one beat his forces or his proxies on the battlefield. He can plausibly say that the next round of chaos isn’t his fault, that Syria was more stable when he left then when he arrived.
But a peace process? Get real. We won’t be seeing any of that until either Assad or the rebels are defeated definitively and ISIS is obliterated from the face of the earth.