Russia reached an understanding with the U.S. on air safety guidelines in Syria on October 20, but Russia's aggressive maneuvers against U.S. aircraft and violations of Turkish airspace are likely to continue in order to keep U.S. air power in the Middle East in check.
Russia's Syrian campaign is part of larger confrontation with the U.S. and NATO. In addition to expanding the scope of its operations to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Russia issued an open challenge to NATO through repeated violations of Turkish airspace, the shadowing of U.S. Predator drones in Syria, and the launch of cruise missiles into Syria from the Caspian Sea through Iraqi airspace without warning the U.S. beforehand. Russia accelerated its efforts to court U.S.
Russia and the separatists continued their operational pause in eastern Ukraine as Russia turned its attention toward its creation of a forward operating base in Syria ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the UN General Assembly on September 28.
Russian-backed separatists continued to engage Ukrainian forces with indirect fire along the front line in Donbas, as talks resumed on the implementation of the February “Minsk II” ceasefire agreement. Separatist indirect fire killed two Ukrainian troops less than 10 kilometers outside of Mariupol, one week after a separatist artillery barrage killed three civilians in a suburb of the strategic port city.