Vladimir Putin intends to secure Russia’s Mediterranean naval facility in Tartus, Syria.
Putin recognizes that his natural allies are the Assad regime the Iranians (Shia) and the Shia militias (like Hezbollah). Putin can rely on these groups to fight on the ground to help extinguish ISIS and potentially save the Alawites in the process. He will arm these groups for the fight.
First, Putin will need to knock out the Sunni militias, enemies of ISIS that they are.
Eventually Putin’s heavy artillery will be devastating to ISIS.
While Mr. Putin pursues his nationalistic interests fueled by the likes of Alexander Dugin (read more on Dugin here, here, here and here), he is fast turning Russia into a financial banana republic. Because of his militaristic adventures, the West has slapped on consequential sanctions. The Russian stock market has crashed, wiping out oligarch wealth. The currency has cratered, making it prohibitively expensive for Russia to import badly needed technology from the West. And the Russian economy has dived into recession. Should Mr. Putin continue to push a militaristic national agenda, which the West opposes, further sanctions will be imposed, sending the Russian economy into a potential death-spiral if its stock market and currency both slide into a free fall.
Notwithstanding Putin’s serious financial position, he is likely to push aggressively forward in Syria as his efforts–although not openly trumpeted by the West–will serve the best interests of America and Europe. ISIS must be totally obliterated. And someone is going to have to suffer substantial ground casualties, collateral damage and unintended consequences in the process. Who better than Mr. Putin?