OU History Professor Discusses Russia’s Role In Syrian Conflict

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On Monday it appeared the United States was marching towards possible military action against Syria.

Fast forward just four days and top diplomats from the U.S. and Russia are in Geneva trying to hammer out an agreement about how to secure Syria’s chemical weapons – the success of which will shape broader talks on the Syrian peace process.

Russia has played a pivotal role in getting the Syrian regime to agree to give up its chemical weapons.

Ohio University history professor Steve Miner says Russian President Vladimir Putin would like to restore Russia’s stature in the world.

“Certainly Putin sees the United States as a rival and feels the United States benefited from the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Miner said. “He called it the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.”

Miner says Putin’s actions so far on Syria reflect the trend of his foreign policy.

“[He] sees that it’s [American foreign policy] in retreat and figures this is a way to throw a spoke [sic] into American plans,” Miner said.

Miner said Russia’s interest in the region is part of a long term geopolitical power contest.

“I think in terms of geo-strategy it doesn’t want to see the United States dominate its southern flank,” he said. “This is part of a larger, greater power contest. It doesn’t mean that it’s about to erupt into war or you can’t engage in all kinds of fruitful cooperation with the Russians, but it does mean that they do not want to see American interests dominant in their backyard.”