They say these shipments—which they’ve tried to thwart by instructing NATO allies to deny delivery flights through their airspace—are likely “to prolong the war” in that tragically suffering country. Cable news anchors, with furrowed brows and glaring eyes, warn their viewers that Moscow’s stepped-up support for the Assad regime is a “worrisome development.”
Moscow responds blandly that Russia (and the Soviet Union before it) have been allied to the Syrian government since the 1950s, when (like the U.S., actually) it saw the secular Baathists as a preferable alternative to Islamist throughout the region. Russia has been Syria’s main arms supplier for decades, and is (according to RT television) currently filling contracts with Damascus signed years ago.
(Moscow might add that it has maintained a naval base at Tartus on the Syrian coast since 1971, and an airbase at Latakia. These are among Russia’s foreign military basis, which you can count on one hand. The U.S. in contrast has, as you know, well over 700 military bases in over 135 countries where around 300,000 U.S. troops are stationed.)
The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly urged the establishment of an international coalition to fight ISIL, which seems rational enough on the face of it. While it has not yet killed as many people as George W. Bush did, this well funded, growing organization, rapidly evolving into a viable state, is as manifestly cruel as the former U.S. president and his cabinet of amoral neocons hell-bent on imposing their own sort of caliphate on Southwest Asia. It is surely evil.