Russia's Nightmare and the Danger of Abandoning Assad
By Walter Russell Mead
Russia has long struggled with Islamic (and other) terrorists in the Caucasus. President Vladimir Putin promised to eradicate terror networks and separatists movements as he rose to power in 1999 and 2000, and ever since then he's been ruthless in targeting enemies of the state. The days of hostage crises and apartment block bombings are gone, but danger, still lurking in the mountains of the Caucasus, is expanding to other parts of Russia too.
Part of Putin's support for Assad comes from fear that if religious extremists win in Syria, or if chaos allows them to develop bases and networks, fighters, money and other things will start moving through the mountainous regions into Russia itself. The "Sunni surge" sweeping the Middle East threatens Russia through the Caucasus and through Central Asia.
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