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Is Russia Reprising Its Syrian Playbook in Ukraine?

Updated: Apr 27, 2023



The war in Ukraine has claimed thousands of lives and destroyed entire cities and villages. Recognising the lessons that may be drawn from other wars throughout the world, particularly Syria, is crucial as the crisis continues.


Former CIA analyst and author David McCloskey has emphasised the similarities between the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. He claims Russia's involvement in both battles has been a defining feature.


Russia has employed three strategies in both battles, according to McCloskey: erasing individuality and emphasising ideology, distorting the facts and destroying critical thinking, and treating brutality as a badge of honour and a goal in and of itself.


McCloskey claims this demonstrates a readiness to subject people to hardship and use the nation as a sacrifice for the Syrian regime’s objectives: Similar methods are being used by Russia in the fighting for Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, which is causing the same dynamic to exist in Ukraine.


Aleppo has become one of the world's most damaged cities as a result of the Syrian war. Unfortunately, comparable scars may be found in Ukrainian cities like Mariupol, Kherson, and Bakhmut. Ending the war is the only way to ensure that Ukraine does not suffer a similar fate.


The economy, infrastructure, and people of Ukraine have all suffered significantly as a result of the conflict. The misery of everyday Ukrainians continues as the war grinds on, and the longer the conflict lasts, the more difficult it will be to reconstruct the nation. In this regard, prioritising diplomatic relations and nonviolent conflict resolution above military action is crucial. Violence cannot end the war, and any attempts to do so will only lead to more misery and devastation.


All parties involved in the conflict are losing. The Ukrainian people have endured the most during this conflict. Those who stay in the combat areas endure frequent shelling, sniper attacks, and other acts of brutality.


The war has had serious economic repercussions, including infrastructure destruction, trade disruptions, and a sharp decline in the nation's GDP. This has widened political and socioeconomic gaps within Ukraine, tearing the social fabric of the nation apart permanently.


Russia has seen negative effects of the war too. As a result of Western nations charging Russia of sabotaging Ukraine's territorial integrity, the nation has been subject to international isolation and sanctions. Russia's actions have weakened its influence on the global stage and frayed relations with its neighbours.


Additionally, the conflict has had a negative impact on international organisations and the world community. Tensions between Russia and Western countries have created a situation reminiscent of the Cold War. This has diverted attention and money away from other global problems including poverty, climate change, and humanitarian disasters.


A negotiated settlement might be difficult because of the entrenched viewpoints and widening differences brought on by the crisis in Ukraine. However, that does in no way mean a resolution to the crisis is not required. Lessons from Syria emphasise the value of putting diplomacy and peaceful settlement ahead of combating methods in both crises. The international community must work together to achieve peace and security for the people of Syria and Ukraine.


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