Source: Maxim Trudolyubov, editor-at-large at the Russian business newspaper Vedomosti, in The New York Times, October 22
…Apparently for most Russians, discussing the wisdom of plunging into a sectarian conflict hundreds of miles away is not nearly as exciting as simply watching televised images of warships firing cruise missiles into the darkness. While I am unable to judge what effect Russian bombs and missiles are producing on the people in Syria, I do know that here in Russia the broadcasts inspire awe, and not just among my countrymen: Moscow’s state-run TV caters to Russian speakers the world over. Dramatic footage of high-tech military sorties is now a programing staple – and an integral part of the Syrian operation. (Until a month ago, fighting in Ukraine kept people glued to their screens, but, as the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.”)
…In Russia, after 15 years of Mr. Putin’s leadership, all political culture rotates around the state. He is acting in the Middle East as if the region were just another Russian oblast, a troublesome province that needs to be brought up short by the power of the centralized state. I cannot help thinking that Mr. Putin is fashioning Russia’s role in Syria almost as a mirror image of what President George W. Bush tried to do in Iraq. But whereas the United States saw democracy as a cure-all, Mr. Putin is pushing a centralized authoritarian state as a remedy for all the troubled region’s ills.