Russia's success could be attributed to a number of factors.
For one thing, Vladimir Putin "knows who his allies are — and, no less importantly, who his enemies are," as Owen put it. Washington and London do not support any major group taking part in the bloody civil war and they have been struggling to find what they referred to as "moderate" fighters to oppose Assad.
Another major reason stems from the fact that the Kremlin was right about the implications of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings and "America and Britain were dead wrong," the journalist noted. "Regime change doesn't seem to have changed Middle Eastern countries for the better, as Vladimir Putin has been warning for years."
"With this relatively small military force, Putin has achieved remarkable diplomatic leverage — and halted any renewed western attempts to depose Assad," the journalist observed in an article titled "How Putin outwitted the West." He also warned of unpredictable results that air campaigns could yield, citing NATO's experience in Libya.
Owen also maintains that one of Putin's aims in Syria "is to hold up Britain and America as paper tigers whose indecision has created a policy vacuum on Syria, into which Putin has confidently stepped. The Russian operation is small and portable enough for Putin to be able to roll it up in a week — and declare victory if and when the going gets tough. That, as he knows, is more than Britain and America have been able to do in any of our recent wars."