Putin’s Gas Attack

Is Russia Just in Syria for the Pipelines?

Assad's forces drive a military vehicle in Mahr and Shaer gas fields after regaining control of the area, in Homs countryside, November 15, 2014. George Ourfalian / Reuters

Russia’s belligerence in Syria has renewed debates about Russian motives. James Nixey, head of the Russia and Eurasia Program at Chatham House, and Xenia Wickett, project director for the United States at Chatham House, probably put it best in their recent article: “Why, ‘logically’, would a country buckling under the strain of a crippled economy and which has itself been a recent victim of extremist terror, open up a second front of military operations far away from its traditional theatre of military engagement in the former Soviet space? And what else, other than ulterior motives to those officially stated, could explain Russia’s targeting of Syrian groupings other than ISIS strongholds?”

One answer is natural gas. Specifically, most of the foreign belligerents in the war in Syria are gas-exporting countries with interests in one of the two competing pipeline projects that seek to cross Syrian territory to deliver either

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