Breedlove: Russian Build Up in Syria Distracting from Crimea

Russia’s build?up in western Syria is a way for that country to divert the world’s attention from the ongoing situation in Ukraine, said Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander. The world needs to pay attention to Russia’s activity and whether it will use its military to support Syrian President Bashar al Assad, said Breedlove on Monday. Russia for the past several weeks has deployed aircraft and troops to the region of Latakia, which is loyal to the embattled president. It also has set up “very sophisticated” air-to-air fighter jets to counter an airborne threat, which ISIS does not currently pose, Breedlove said. Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to keep the Syrian regime in power, and keep its access to warm-water ports within Syria. The military build up shows that Russia wants to be seen as an equal on the world stage, Breedlove said.