Enough Russian aircraft have now arrived in Syria to begin combat operations in support of loyalist forces, according to satellite imagery. Russia has been consolidating its military presence in Syria over the past few weeks, bolstering the Syrian regime’s fight against rebel and Islamist groups.
The Russian entry into Syria complicates an already fractured war. Risk of miscalculation in the air and on the ground may result in Russian and US forces clashing. Behind the scenes, the Syrian regime is in the midst of a potential power transition, a process facilitated by Russia. Combat-strength foreign troops in the country will help convince the regime to share power.
Across the Mediterranean, the Greek government of Alexis Tsipras was victorious over the weekend with its second general election in a 12 month period. The Syriza Party’s gamble in asking the public for trust has paid off. The election also assisted Mr Tsipras in purging rogue members of his party.
Mr Tsipras will now focus on two main issues. While he promises to adhere to the bailout terms, he has some breathing space from creditors before engaging in necessary reforms. However, Mr Tsipras will need those reforms in order to re-engage Greece’s creditors for further debt relief. Greece will likely stay in the Eurozone for the rest of 2015, but a recession will complicate its reform process.
On the other side of the world, more satellite imagery shows China continuing to build islands by reclamation in the South and East China Seas. China earlier claimed this process has stopped, indicating it knows its actions are dubious. However, the international community is displaying confusion as to whether the actions are illegal and what to do about it.
In response to the larger context of China’s belligerency, Japan this week finalised a process of re-evaluating its overseas security posture. Japan’s Senate passed a new bill allowing the country’s military to conduct “collective self-defence”. This will place Japanese forces directly in harm’s way to protect allies, even if its troops are not threatened.