Recently, it was discovered that President Putin has secretly deployed 2 Iskander launching vehicles capable of deploying two 500-kilometer-range surface-to-surface missiles (SS-26) to his naval base in Latakia, Syria. In addition to these launchers, the Kremlin has also deployed its preferred Anti-Access Area-Denial (A2AD) system the S-400.
The deployment of these systems is rather interesting especially considering their location. To the best of my knowledge, ISIS or for that fact, any of the other anti-government forces in which Putin is helping al-Assad defeat are not flying military aircraft or launching missiles. Instead, the Kremlin is possibly working to establish the southern cordon of its missile defense system. By looking at the map below* it is possible to understand Putin’s larger strategy in the region – an increasingly stronger anti-ballistic missile shield across Central Europe.
In many ways the deployment of this system is in keeping with Vladimir Putin’s ideas in regards to the West. Just as Putin believed the West was encouraging revolutions around the world in order to forcefully intervene itself – so to has Putin instigated domestic strife throughout his ‘near abroad,’ in order to keep these countries from entering into Western institutions. Furthermore, just as Putin saw the West encroaching on formerly Soviet States throughout the 1990s, and the early 2000’s, he too is working quickly in order to ‘capitalize’ on the withdrawal of US forces from the region to cement America’s momentary weakness.
*Map provided by the Institute for the Study of War