ISTANBUL — Russian bombers flying from an Iranian air base struck rebel targets across Syria on Tuesday, Russian and Iranian officials said, dramatically underscoring the two countries’ growing military ties and highlighting Russia’s ambitions for greater influence in a turbulent Middle East.
The long-range Tu-22 bombers took off from a base near Hamadan in western Iran and launched raids in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Deir al-Zour and Idlib, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. The ministry said the bombers were accompanied by Russian fighter jets based in Syria.
An expanding Russian “footprint” expands at our expense; either we shrink to accommodate it, or the two inevitably collide.
Putin has very deftly maneuvered his country into a position of strength, and potentially still greater strength, in the Middle East. If he succeeds in cleaving Turkey from NATO, achieving regime survival in Syria and getting cozier with Iran, all the while slowly beating Ukraine down, menacing the Baltic states and keeping a distracted NATO on edge, then what results?
Fundamental strategic transformation, that’s what.
And we seem to be unwilling or incapable of doing anything about. It will be done at our expense, and it will hurt. Russia plays to win and to dominate. I don’t know what the hell we’re doing.