Syria was a rehearsal for the struggle between Russia and the West in Ukraine: Here’s why they are very different conflicts

It was seven years ago

Modern Russia’s first major foreign military campaign began seven years ago. It was a very different challenge to the current test in Eastern Europe.

It was seven years ago, this week, that Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to help the Syrian government in its fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists and US-backed Al-Qaeda insurgents. Russia’s military support propped up President Bashar Assad, who seemed to be hanging by a thread, as most of the country’s territory was brought back under government control, and IS was routed.

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