He wasn’t standing on an aircraft carrier with a banner saying “Mission Accomplished” behind him, but Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was a lot more credible than former US president George W Bush when he declared his country’s military intervention in the Middle East a success.
And most of the Russian forces in Syria are going home after only five months, not the eight years that American troops stayed in Iraq.
“The effective work of our military created the conditions for the start of the peace process,” said Putin on 14 March. And it has indeed been a remarkably intelligent and successful intervention.
The Russians said right from the start that it would be a limited operation both in scope and in time, and that their goal was not to help the Assad regime reconquer Syria but to restore the military stalemate in the civil war as the necessary preliminary to a ceasefire and peace talks.
And that is exactly what they did.