With its precision airstrikes, Russia has caught ISIL flat-footed, surprising Western intelligence agencies and military analysts by its ability to get maximum results with minimum effort, Sushentsov said.
But most importantly, by carrying out a successful military campaign in Syria, Russia showed the world that it can be totally independent when it comes to waging wars in the 21st Century, the political analyst explained.
"Russia asserted itself as a force to be reckoned with in the Middle East, a nation able to conduct effective expeditionary military operations. Until now, only the United States showed it could relocate its troops so far from national borders… By launching cruise missiles at ISIL positions from ships in the Caspian Sea, Russia has firmly showed its force in the region," Sushentsov said.
Russia Has Two Strategies to Fight ISIL
In essence, the fight against ISIL in Syria is an issue of Russian national security. The presence of militants hailing from the North Caucasus and Central Asia among ISIL means that Russia might soon face an increasing number of well-trained terrorists crossing into Russian territory. That's why Moscow understands that from a strategic point of view it's much better to defeat ISIL militants in the Middle East than fight them on its own soil several years down the road, the political scientist explained.
Moscow is interested in having the government of Bashar al-Assad in power for Syria to remain Russia's ally. With al-Assad in Syria, Russia can expand its naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea and work on selling gas to Israel and Cyprus via Syrian territory.
That's why Russia has a second strategy which is to wipe ISIL completely off the face of the Earth. This strategy is a lot harder and its objectives are harder to achieve. To pull it off, Russia will have to work closely with Syria, Iran and Iraq and avoid the infiltration of extremists into its own territory.
If Russia manages to completely destroy ISIL it will be an "incredible achievement" that will facilitate peace-building in the Middle East and make Syria and Iran faithful allies of Moscow. Peace will finally come into the lives of millions of Syrians and Iraqis and the refugee crisis in Europe will begin to subside.
It would be much better if the entire international community would come together in the fight against ISIL; however, even without the participation of Western nations, Russia can manage to defeat the terrorist group, Sushentsov concluded.