Vladimir Putin’s third term as president is being marked by tightening authoritarianism and a combative posture on the international stage. This stance in not new and has been steadly evolving for over a decade. Russia has been at best neglectful of the massive humanitarian crisis in Syria and at worst further facilitating the bloodshed for narrow political ends. Putin’s support for Syria’s Assad,
despite half-hearted denials, suggest some emerging commonalities including a cynical view of democratic reform as well as an almost paranoid suspicion that the West is conspiring against them. Another similarity is the reliance on security organs as a
reliable tool of governance. While political life in the two countries is overall incomparable Moscow’s response to the Syrian crisis
could be a forewarning that Russia could yet emerge as a dangerous and irritational actor on the world stage.