"Why on earth would Russia back out on a sweet deal with John Kerry that had allowed it to cash in on its Syria gamble and become the United States' senior partner in shaping Syria's future and in the coalition for the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS)? By trampling over the much-hyped US-Russia brokered ceasefire in Syria, Vladimir Putin has proved right Kerry's detractors in the Obama administration. Cynical as they may be, the Pentagon and the CIA have questioned Russia's seriousness about the ceasefire and the diplomatic process from the very beginning. Russia has taken advantage of Kerry's concessions, not to exercise influence over Bashar al-Assad, but rather to unleash him to 'retake the whole country' from the 'terrorists'," Marwan Bishara writes for Al Jazeera.
"Analysts say that Russia and Syria may be targeting civilians in Aleppo to erode the rebels? legitimacy by driving them into the hands of extremists. Such a move could give Russia more leverage in diplomatic talks and perhaps persuade civilians to stop supporting the rebels," Anne Barnard, Sewell Chan, and Rick Gladstone write for the New York Times.
?Russia could pay a price for Aleppo in its relations with Europe and the Arab world. The Russian economy is already suffering badly as a result of low oil prices, Western sanctions, and costly military interventions in Ukraine and Syria. Now, whatever prospects there were for the lifting of European sanctions or the expansion of Russian energy cooperation with Europe or Saudi Arabia will be greatly diminished, ensuring continued Russian economic pain. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries should consider their own economic sanctions on Russia to raise the costs and make clear their displeasure,? writes CFR?s Phillip Gordon in the Washington Post.