Speaking on CTV, Carnegie’s Matthew Rojansky discussed the Russia-Syria relationship and the domestic situation in Russia.
- Russian Domestic Protests: Evaluating the recent large protest in Moscow during the national holiday, Rojansky said that unlike the protests in the December and March, which were widespread throughout the country, the current movement is centered in Moscow. “The negative there is that it is isolated, and that it doesn’t speak for the country as a whole,” he said. “The positive for the protesters is that they are in the media spotlight.” He concluded, “The fact that there has not been violence is good for protesters but it is also good for Putin. At a certain point, violence is going to tarnish Putin’s image and reputation and will bring more people out on the streets.”
- Russia’s Relationship with Syria: Recently, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested that Moscow might be sending attack helicopters to Syria. Rojansky commented on the possibility, saying “if it is true, that is a big if, and if this is an immediate delivery of attack helicopters, then that would be a real departure from Russia’s commitment to Syria.” He added, “it could be because simply one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing-that is, sometimes the Russian defense export industry is following through deals they think of as long-term arrangements irrespective of what the state of political play is.” He suggested that there is a third possible interpretation. “Another reason could be that the Russians are playing both sides of the game. We heard a couple of weeks ago that the Russians were prepared to talk about a post-Assad scenario, but obviously if they are supplying Assad with weapons he can use to effectively obliterate the rebels from the air, they are definitely playing for both sides,” he said.