With regards to the ceasefire talks that never got off the ground in Geneva last week, AlJazeera’s Luke Coffey writes that “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was never serious about a ceasefire, and neither was his partner in crime Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.”
… the recapture of Aleppo would make it highly unlikely that Assad and his cronies would return to the negotiating table. In Putin’s eyes the world is a zero-sum game and in Syria he is winning … not negotiating.
If Assad chooses to negotiate, he will be doing so from a position of strength. For Assad personally, regaining Aleppo will serve as a major propaganda coup and shore up his support among those still supporting the regime in Damascus.
Syria has become as much about Russian President Vladimir Putin as it is about Assad.
Russia’s help in recapturing Aleppo is only the beginning, not the pinnacle, of Moscow’s support for the Assad regime. It is true that the Russians have helped the Syrian military to recapture smaller and less significant parts of the country from rebel forces, but Aleppo is different.
… Russia’s intervention in Syria should not be viewed in isolation. The capture of Aleppo means that Moscow will have many more bargaining chips when it comes to dealing with the West over issues such as Ukraine or Georgia.
For the Kremlin, pressing issues such as ending the economic sanctions over Ukraine, getting the West to turn a blind eye to the annexation of Crimea, or stopping NATO bases in Eastern Europe can be directly linked to a ceasefire in Syria.
In other words:
The more resources and focus [by the U.S.] that is placed on Syria, the less is given to places such as the Baltics, Ukraine, or Georgia.