The Putin-led government signed a $550 million contract with Syria in December to provide 36 Yak-130 Mitten combat trainers to the Syrian government, which can serve as a heavily-armed ground attack and counterinsurgency aircraft. It is estimated that Russia has $5 billion in potential arms exports to Syria in the works, with this latest project aimed to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stay in power.
Thus, Russia is placing its bets on Assad's regime. However, regional experts do not see this as a good and wise bet. Why?
The fall of the Syrian regime could be imminent, as it appears momentum is picking up to turn Assad out of office. For example, within the past week, a Syrian intelligence general was killed by his own men when they refused to follow his order to shoot protesting citizens in the Syrian city of Hama. This follows an epidemic desertion of Assad's troops from his army to the rebel cause.
As an added blow, even Assad's own minority group is turning against him. Recently, 100 Alawite intellectuals showed support for "the freedom intifada," by posting their declaration of support on Facebook. Though the Alawites are in the distinct minority in Syria, they are the ruling party at this time; and Assad himself is an Alawite.
As a result of the current state of things, Lebanese Future movement Secretary-General Ahmad Hairiri stated in an interview that "large regions of Syria are outside of the control of the regime."
Furthermore, the Arab League will seek to end the rule of Assad within six months. This was the announcement given Sunday when the League revealed it would seek a U.N. Security Council endorsement for this plan in order to pave the way for a democratically-elected government.
Even Assad's allies can see the handwriting on the wall. A senior Israeli defense official stated that Hizbullah and Iran are preparing for the toppling of Assad's regime. IDF (Israel Defense Forces) intelligence reveals that Hizbullah is currently providing assistance to Assad in the form of weapons, training, and troops in an effort to quell the resistance. However, Hizbullah understands that things do not look good for the continuance of the Assad regime; thus, preparation is being made for the "day after" the fall of that regime.
Thus, the prediction has come from many that Assad's fall is imminent; and, if so, what then will happen to Russia's role in the Middle East? This is a pertinent question especially since the Russians are also attached to Iran. Thus, if the Syrian regime goes down and then the current Iranian regime follows, a significant credibility blow will be dealt to Russian leaders.
So why does this matter? First of all, when Assad falls, it will likely create a domino effect which will adversely affect terrorist entities Hamas, Hizbullah, and even the Iranian regime. God could use that event to align for the fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy. How?
The Bible predicts that the final seven years leading to the return of Christ (to the earth to establish God's kingdom) will begin with the confirmation of a seven-year treaty between Israel and ten leaders of other nations. For that to occur, the Middle East will need to change. Terrorist entities will need to fall to open the way for that treaty and for world leaders to proclaim, "Peace and security!" (cf. 1 Thess. 5:3).
Second, because Russia has staked its future in the Middle East to the current Syrian and Iranian regimes, the fall of Assad's government will significantly reduce Russia's role in the region. Then, if the Iranian regime goes down (which it will—before it can acquire nuclear weapons), Russia will be on the outs in the Middle East. That fits perfectly with end-times Bible prophecy.
Though many teachers of Bible prophecy today connect Russia with Ezekiel 38 and an imminent invasion of Israel, most scholars today do not equate the names of Ezekiel 38 with Russia. Instead (as I have shown in past articles), the names relate to a symbolic representation of the nations that will invade Israel—at the end of the thousand-year rule of Christ, as per Revelation 20:7-10. (Note the connection of "Gog and Magog," a combination of terms used only in Ezekiel 38, 38, and Revelation 20:7-10.)
The point is that Russia is not mentioned in end-times Bible prophecy. The current build-up of Russian power and outreach seem to belie that understanding; however, noting that Bible prophecy focuses on the Middle East helps to explain this. With Russia staking its Middle East future to Syria and Iran, it makes all the sense in the world that Russia would not appear in Bible prophecy. For when the Syrian and Iranian regimes go down, Russia will be on the outside looking in regarding their part in the region.
Thus, alignment toward the fulfillment of end-times prophecy continues. Russia's poor Middle East choices fit perfectly with that alignment.
[John Claeys serves as Executive Director of John Claeys Ministries through writing, speaking, and radio ministries and is the author of Apocalypse 2012: The Ticking of the End Time Clock—What Does the Bible Say?, a riveting look of the events leading up to the return of Christ. See http://johnclaeys.com/ for more information.]