• 5 mins Trader Trafigura Raises Share Of Oil Purchases From State Firms
  • 2 hours German Energy Group Uniper Rejects $9B Finnish Takeover Bid
  • 3 hours Total Could Lose Big If It Pulls Out Of South Pars Deal
  • 5 hours Dakota Watchdog Warns It Could Revoke Keystone XL Approval
  • 22 hours Oil Prices Rise After API Reports Major Crude Draw
  • 23 hours Citgo President And 5 VPs Arrested On Embezzlement Charges
  • 23 hours Gazprom Speaks Out Against OPEC Production Cut Extension
  • 24 hours Statoil Looks To Lighter Oil To Boost Profitability
  • 1 day Oil Billionaire Becomes Wind Energy’s Top Influencer
  • 1 day Transneft Warns Urals Oil Quality Reaching Critical Levels
  • 1 day Whitefish Energy Suspends Work In Puerto Rico
  • 1 day U.S. Authorities Arrest Two On Major Energy Corruption Scheme
  • 2 days Thanksgiving Gas Prices At 3-Year High
  • 2 days Iraq’s Giant Majnoon Oilfield Attracts Attention Of Supermajors
  • 2 days South Iraq Oil Exports Close To Record High To Offset Kirkuk Drop
  • 2 days Iraqi Forces Find Mass Graves In Oil Wells Near Kirkuk
  • 2 days Chevron Joint Venture Signs $1.7B Oil, Gas Deal In Nigeria
  • 2 days Iraq Steps In To Offset Falling Venezuela Oil Production
  • 2 days ConocoPhillips Sets Price Ceiling For New Projects
  • 5 days Shell Oil Trading Head Steps Down After 29 Years
  • 5 days Higher Oil Prices Reduce North American Oil Bankruptcies
  • 5 days Statoil To Boost Exploration Drilling Offshore Norway In 2018
  • 5 days $1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved
  • 5 days Venezuela Officially In Default
  • 5 days Iran Prepares To Export LNG To Boost Trade Relations
  • 5 days Keystone Pipeline Leaks 5,000 Barrels Into Farmland
  • 5 days Saudi Oil Minister: Markets Will Not Rebalance By March
  • 6 days Obscure Dutch Firm Wins Venezuelan Oil Block As Debt Tensions Mount
  • 6 days Rosneft Announces Completion Of World’s Longest Well
  • 6 days Ecuador Won’t Ask Exemption From OPEC Oil Production Cuts
  • 6 days Norway’s $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Proposes To Ditch Oil Stocks
  • 6 days Ecuador Seeks To Clear Schlumberger Debt By End-November
  • 6 days Santos Admits It Rejected $7.2B Takeover Bid
  • 6 days U.S. Senate Panel Votes To Open Alaskan Refuge To Drilling
  • 7 days Africa’s Richest Woman Fired From Sonangol
  • 7 days Oil And Gas M&A Deal Appetite Highest Since 2013
  • 7 days Russian Hackers Target British Energy Industry
  • 7 days Venezuela Signs $3.15B Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia
  • 7 days DOJ: Protestors Interfering With Pipeline Construction Will Be Prosecuted
  • 7 days Lower Oil Prices Benefit European Refiners
Alt Text

Keystone XL Pipeline Gains Approval After A 9-Year Battle

Nebraskan regulators have approved the…

Alt Text

GE Looks To Divest Energy Assets As Turmoil Continues

General Electric’s turmoil continues as…

Colin Chilcoat

Colin Chilcoat

Colin Chilcoat is a specialist in Eurasian energy affairs and political institutions currently living and working in Chicago. A complete collection of his work can…

More Info

What Exactly Did Russia Accomplish in Syria?

What Exactly Did Russia Accomplish in Syria?

As quickly and unexpectedly as Russia’s Syrian campaign began, so too does it end, or at least wind down.

On March 14 President Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of the main contingent of Russian military, declaring the mission largely accomplished – the mission of course being little more than a thinly-veiled plot to assert its status as a global power via its support of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Many parts are still in motion however, and it’s safe to assume the dust is far from settled. Related: Record Loss For Petrobras As Political And Economic Crisis Worsen

For the Assad regime – and Russian viewers at home – Russia’s accomplishments are tangible. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Syrian troops with the support of Russian aircraft liberated 400 settlements and more than 10,000 square kilometers of key western and northern territory. Additionally, Russian forces destroyed more than 200 rebel- and terrorist-held oil production and fuel transfer facilities, and nearly 3,000 means of petroleum products delivery.

Most importantly, Putin delivered much needed time and leverage. To be sure, the country is no closer to a long-term future under Assad; his grip on power – while revived – is just as tenuous as it was when Russia’s aerial campaign began.

As Moscow sees it, Russia laid the groundwork for the February 27 ceasefire, reengaged western governments, deflected from Ukraine, and secured a role in all future paths to peace, all the while demonstrating its restored and more remote military capabilities in a limited-risk environment. And, for the most part, these are largely unassailable claims. Mission accomplished. Related: Oil Prices Fall Fast On Huge Inventory Build

As the warring parties sit for another round of UN-supported negotiations, Russia’s influence is undeniable. The sudden, partial withdrawal curbs Assad’s confidence and extorts greater cooperation out of his camp. Similarly, the military pullback may force concessions from the High Negotiations Committee. Ideally for Putin, and disregarding the possibility of an outright win for Damascus, this is it. Russia’s influence leads to a degree of compromise heretofore unseen, producing a federal solution – a series of statelets with already existing sway in Assad’s Mediterranean-bordering western territories and the Kurdish-controlled north.

This Plan B of sorts ensures Russia retains unbroken control of its air and sea bases in Latakia and Tartus respectively, and thus the ability to project power far outside its sphere of influence. Russian companies stay on the inside track to develop Syria’s admittedly dreamy offshore oil reserves. And, competing potential natural gas pipeline projects to Europe from Qatar and Iran virtually evaporate – not that they were ever much of a concern. Related: Is This The Most Intricate Oil Theft Operation Yet?

Of course, the convoluted talks are more likely to fail than produce the above, but Russia – considering its non-linear approach – maintains options. Russian jets are at the ready and Putin can quickly scale up forces to resume the aerial bombardment. Rinse and repeat. A scenario of continued war is likely to produce fragmented rump states anyway. Moreover, in its defense of Assad, Russia further endears itself to other regional quasi-dictatorships a la Egypt, who have significant strategic and economic value to Moscow; Russia has your back.

Assad is yet dispensable too. If the Syrian president continues to rebuff compromise, Putin may be inclined to double down on diplomacy vis-à-vis the Americans and pursue Geneva’s constitutional arrangement if given a role in choosing the successor. A unilateral victory was probably never in the cards, but some form of multilateral power brokerage is just as much of a prize and far less costly.

Whatever the path, Russia has a say, and even some ability to direct. Just what that entails – sanctions relief, production concessions, etc. – is anyone’s guess, but Russia’s grander, albeit slightly improvisational plan has more to reveal.

By Colin Chilcoat of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News