Two Russian navy ships are completing preparations to sail to Syria with a unit of marines on a mission to protect Russian citizens and the nation's base there, a news report said Monday. The deployment appears to reflect Moscow's growing concern about Syrian President Bashar Assad's future.
The 600 troops and couple dozen armored vehicles carried are too few to take part in Assad's killing campaign.
I take the Russians at their word that the troops would guard the naval base in Tartus, Syria.
And if Assad's regime goes belly up, they could road march to Damascus, secure the airport, and fly out their citizens:
Interfax also quoted a deputy Russian air force chief as saying that Russia will give the necessary protection to its citizens in Syria. "We must protect our citizens," Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Gradusov was quoted as saying. "We won't abandon the Russians and will evacuate them from the conflict zone, if necessary."
Or, troops could evacuate civilians in a convoy to the port facilities.
In addition, the marines could bolster Russia's embassy to defend it and prevent embarrassing information from being looted from the compound.
I'm not worried about the Russian troops. They are a drop in the bucket and only have a role if they face some chaos.