Putin’s main motivation of getting involved in the Syrian mess is preservation of power by all means. Following the complete failure of a possible deal between Russia and the U.S. on division of areas of influence within Europe and the Kremlin’s “soft exit” from war with Ukraine, it became clear that Vladimir Putin, in fact, booked a place in a line after Assad. This is the line for a regime change and radical restructuring of the state and society. "Feebleness" of U.S. President Barack Obama was deceptive, so no exchange of Ukraine for Syria has happened. This resulted in Putin raising the stakes dramatically on September 30, getting involved in the conflict on the side of the desperately losing Shiite coalition.
Putin is doing everything to speed up his own end
To retain his rapidly slipping power, Putin will most likely draw his last trump card, which worked well at the beginning of his presidential career – “the fight against Islamic terrorism in Russia.” I hope we will not witness more terrible terrorist attacks in Moscow and other Russian cities (like explosions of high-storey apartment buildings on Kashirskoye highway), but Putin seems to have no lever to hold power other than starting to “whack in the outhouse" some real or virtual internal enemies. Given that Russian Muslims are predominantly Sunni, it’s not difficult to pave the way for a new wave of terrorism across the country. After that, the Kremlin will tighten the screws even harder amid hybrid war with the West and real wars in Ukraine and Syria, as well as the internal war against terrorism. I wish to be wrong, but Putin is on top gear toward such a scenario.
Putin has no lever to hold power other than starting to “whack in the outhouse” some real or virtual internal enemies
It is necessary to draw attention to another important point - the complete fiasco of the Russian propaganda machine outside Russia after Russia’s Syrian intervention. The Kremlin’s propaganda seemed invincible and hyper-effective against disoriented Ukrainian media and Kyiv authorities. But the real standoff with the Western propaganda machine which has once grinded to ashes such political figures as Milosevic, Hussein and Gaddafi, ended in the first day of airstrikes. Videos and photos of Syrian civilians killed in Russian air raids were spun by all major international media. Russia's attempts to convince the world community that it actually bombed Islamic State headquarters were thrashed with reports from the bombed cities controlled by the Syrian opposition, which is a Western ally.
Harsh demands by Germany (at the level of the most pro-Russian official – Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier) to explain the reason for bombing Syrian cities outside the IS-controlled area is only the beginning. The end result will be the complete demonization of Putin, his entourage and the entire Russian power vertical. What is next? A Russian variation of the last days of Middle Eastern and North African dictators. In this context, it is interesting to see how the most daring businessmen close to the Kremlin, will try to jump from the train, driven by Putin, which is falling into the abyss. Few will succeed.
Russia will face the same tactics Putin used in Crimea and Donbas
So far, the West has been quietly watching Russia building up its military presence in Syria. But the anti-Putin campaign is furious on the information battlefield work. Neither money, nor information manipulation will be able to win back the hearts of Putin's former western sympathizers. Very soon their heads will be absolutely sterile to the carefully nurtured Russian clichés, myths, "100% historical facts," and other information junk.
As for the military phase of the Syrian conflict, Russia will face the same tactics Putin used in Crimea and Donbas. Officially, none of the NATO soldiers will engage in combat against the Russian armed forces in Syria. Unofficially, anybody (and there will be many) will be able to practice in the fight against the last "evil empire." There is no doubt that Russia isn’t able to continue with such actions for long, neither is its army. There is no need to describe the new cycle of collapse of society and the state, which Russia will have to pass through following the final defeat of the Russian troops in Syria and the destruction of the Russian economy.
There is one more thing that is difficult to comprehend. Why does Putin, just like other dictators, go the shortest way to his own end, finishing off his country, and the Russian society? Most likely, there is some “history fuse” preventing the dark side from prevailing for a long period of time. Therefore, the bear trap is about to snap hard as Putin’s story is nearing its end. We are about to read the last chapter.