Just as the MoD release an operational update which describes how many $500 pickup trucks it has destroyed with £100,000 Brimstone missiles our friend in Moscow displays yet more flair for upsetting the apple cart and catching the West totally off guard.
After several days of sightings and rumours, Vladimir Putin has confirmed the presence of Russian military forces in Syria, firmly on the side of the Assad regime. They are ostensibly there to advise, train and support;
To say we’re ready to do this today – so far it’s premature to talk about this. But we are already giving Syria quite serious help with equipment and training soldiers, with our weapons. We really want to create some kind of an international coalition to fight terrorism and extremism. To this end, we hold consultations with our American partners – I have personally spoken on the issue with US President Obama.
Images have emerged of vehicles, personnel, communications equipment and accommodation, a typical logistics advance party. These build on 40 odd years of Russian presence in Syria, in some regards, this is more of the same.
The US and Europe have painted themselves into a corner with typical ineptitude, the mature long term thing to do would have been to work with Russia and Assad to at least attempt some kind of negotiated ceasefire that would isolate ISIS and allow concentration of resources on their destruction. By insisting Assad must go we create no incentive for Assad to rush to the same fate as Ghadaffi.
This has created a perfect opportunity for Russia to step in.
What the end state of Russian involvement will be is not certain but what is certain is that this intervention is at least something different in the never ending misery that is the Syrian civil war.
The reality on the ground is that if Russia does deploy a meaningful force, air or land, the West will have to cooperate, however difficult that will be.
Interesting times ahead.