Russia’s military is unlikely to turn the tide in Syria’s war

“This has no comparison in the history of modern Russia,” said Evgeny Buzhinsky, a retired Russian lieutenant general and senior vice president of the PIR Center, a Moscow think tank that focuses on international affairs.

Russia has fought small ground wars in recent years, but “it is the first time when Russia follows the United States,” he said. “Bombing from the air to inflict as much damage as possible. Those are your tactics.”

President Vladimir Putin has said he will not send ground troops to Syria. Nonetheless, Russia risks taking casualties and becoming bogged down in a bloody Middle East war. President Obama predicted Friday that Russia would become stuck in a “quagmire” in Syria.

“We are basically novices in this type of war,” said Ruslan Pukhov, a defense expert and director of the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, in an interview. “And when you are a novice, you are doomed to commit some kinds of mistakes. Hopefully not deadly ones, but obviously there is a risk of casualties.”