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Triangle of Syria, Iran, and Russia

Both Moscow and Tehran, for different reasons, view their entrenchment in Syria as a means to broader ends. Given Damascus’s importance for the realization of the ayatollahs’ hegemonic ambitions, the pros of their Syrian involvement have outweighed the hefty price tag. For Moscow, the overall balance of the Syrian undertaking has been more complex. While allowing the consolidation of Russia’s military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, relations with Syria have never been a goal in and of itself for the Kremlin but rather a means to push back the U.S.-led global order—as has been the Ukraine invasion. Indeed, it is arguable that the Syrian intervention helped trigger the latter invasion. For one thing, Moscow viewed Syria as a training ground for future operations, and its military entrenchment in the Eastern Mediterranean has bolstered its Black Sea position.