Putin's Syria strikes are a long-term play for higher oil prices

Yes, this is about Russia’s international standing, but more importantly it is also a long-term play for higher oil prices and, ultimately, a flow of oil dollars into Russia to strengthen his popularity at home.

The international aspect is relatively transparent. Putin has to prop up his ally and force his way back in from the cold on the global stage. Syria is home to Russia’s only naval base in the Middle East and has long been a buyer of Russian arms and a supplier of regional intelligence.

More importantly, however, he cannot be seen to stand by and allow Assad to fall. He needs to show the US and the world that he will not retreat from the position he staked out at the start of the conflict.

By wading into such a complicated international situation, he is also deflecting attention from Ukraine and weaving a new narrative for himself. Putin is now the bold peacekeeper, leading the charge against terrorism ahead of a hesitant US and earning a renewed place at the top table.