All they have to do is sit. Well, and ensure that Assad is protected. This is Russia's limit of extended force. AFAIK, this is the furthest they have projected real military force since Cuba.Hank001 wrote:...They are playing a smart long game here.
There's also "the pipleline" and, IIRC, some plans for more petroleum/NG related works in the Black Sea. Syria's a nice stopover if Turkey isn't feeling cooperative, though IIRC, the pipeline from central Russia is supposed to run all the way through to Turkey and beyond, widening Russia's market considerably, serving the Med and Europe as well as, perhaps, some ME countries that don't have rich reserves or refinery capability.
Want to make Russia edgy? Get Turkey to start voicing its opinion... OH, WAIT, Turkey hates the Kurds... Well, there goes that plan, huh? Technically... Russia is supporting forces in opposition to the Kurds.
The Kurds have been a serious issue since Desert Storm. And, we dropped the ball there, too, by incentivizing them and practically abandoning them until the SECOND friggin Iraq war. And, after? Sure, they were gun ho and we supported them. And, when ISIS threatened? There's the Kurds, showing us their will to fight, so we supported them and put them up as poster-kids for local resistance against ISIS. Turkey didn't like us giving them all that stuff too much... Fighting between the Kurds and Turkey, who sees them as a terrorist group if anything, has been ongoing since the first Iraq war. (Way before that, but that's when it started getting noticed by the West.)
Tell ya what - We fix it so Turkey and the Kurds are not at each other's throats anymore, at least for awhile, and maybe that'll be the leverage we need to get Russia to agree to regime change in Syria, provided they keep their base/port agreements with any new government. (Which can't really be denied, since that kind of thing is something that really should survive peaceful change in government.)
We make happy-play-nice between Turkey and Kurds, Turkey grumbles about Russia, which puts some strain on pipeline plans, and Russia comes to the table on talks for a new unified Syrian government, no redrawing of any borders necessary, and a new govt without Assad, who gets to "retire" without having to go to The Hague. (A huge ongoing threat, as well as a radical concern of the current Syrian govt, since nobody wants to see a new country start up right now, right next door to "everyone." (Well, except for the Kurds, who'd probably make a big push to be included?))