Putin sticking with dictator Assad is damaging Russia's national interest
Moscow's determination to protect Bashar al-Assad at all costs is increasingly harmful to its global interests.
Ever since Russia embarked on its military adventure in Syria, Vladimir Putin's relationship with the Syrian dictator has been characterised more as a marriage of convenience than an ideological meeting of minds.
Russia's principal interest in Syria's seven-year conflict has been to protect its military bases at Latakia and Tartus, which Moscow regards as being vital strategic assets. It was to safeguard the bases that Mr Putin agreed to a request from Iran, the Assad regime's main regional backer, to intervene in Syria in the autumn of 2015, when it looked as though the rebels were about to capture Damascus.