While ample attention has been paid to how Russia’s influence has waned in Central Asia amid the Ukraine War, there’s another theatre that’s primed for a reshuffling of the geopolitical deck: Syria.

Syria is home to one of Russia’s highest-profile post-Cold War foreign policy victories in the successful defense of the Assad regime against Islamic State and West- and Turkey-backed proxies. In exchange for the billions of dollars spent and an unknowable number of lives lost, Russia gained several prizes in its support of Damascus: a dependable regional partner, the continued existence of air and naval bases in Latakia, a rich market for Russian arms, and arguably most importantly the appearance of representing a credible alternative to Western power in a more multipolar global order. It was in Syria that Russia regained the mantle of a superpower, in style if not substance.