Here in the Russian capital government ideologues have been celebrating “a triumph” for Russia after America’s sudden retreat, made in what appeared to be panicked haste after years on the ground backing up Kurdish-led fighters in battles against the so-called Islamic State.
It’s been half a century since Moscow could feel this smug. “The last time Soviet state officials entered American army bases was in Vietnam,” independent military analyst Alexander Golts told The Daily Beast. “When various Russian publications describe Washington as ‘our enemy,’ and when Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff, tells us there is no peace, just different forms of war, the Russian military taking over an American base does look like a victory.”
The images also underscored the new balance of power in the Middle East, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has shifted decisively toward Moscow as he appears to make key strategic decisions while offering himself as mediator on all sides of the Turkish-Kurdish-Syrian conflict.