In August 2015, the government of the Russian Federation embarked its military forces on an intervention in Syria. Ever since, there has been no end of discussion about Russian military capabilities and intentions – in Syria and beyond. To many, the performance of the Russian military – and especially the Russian Air-Space Force (VKS) – in this war was a clear demonstration of advanced technology, improved training, fearsome firepower, and great mobility. To others, the military operation only experienced limited success and exposed a number of weaknesses. Prominent amongst the latter were aircraft ill-suited to the necessities of expeditionary warfare, and a gross lack of advanced weaponry and equipment.
While the military component of their intervention can only be described as having provided clear evidence that the Russian military was in no condition to directly challenge NATO’s eastern frontiers, it cannot be denied that through this action Moscow effected a turning point in the Syrian Civil War, and indeed one on geostrategic level. Organised and conducted in cooperation with very diverse allies – ranging from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran (IRGC), Hezbollah of Lebanon, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and a myriad of local warlords and their armed militias – through the combination of intentional bombardment of insurgent-controlled parts of Syria, and indirect protection for the IRGC’s own military intervention in the country from a possible counter-intervention of the West, the Russians succeeded in saving the regime of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Moscow’s Game of Poker provides a unique overview and analysis of Moscow’s political aims, strategy, doctrine, target selection process, military technology and tactics, day-by-day operations, and the way the Russian Federation cooperated with local allies. This story is told in combination with exclusive insight into the similar campaign run by what was left of the Syrian Arab Air Force.
This revised edition of Moscow’s Game of Poker now includes over 130 full colour photographs, maps and specially commissioned colour artworks of vehicles, aircraft and combatants.