Russia bombing in Syria escalates oil price war with Saudi Arabia

Vladimir Putin’s order to begin bombing targets in Syria has left many political pundits in Washington and London wondering exactly what Russia’s ultimate strategic goal is in the Middle East.

Aside from propping up Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the presence in Syria of Russian bombers flying missions against opposition targets marks the biggest deployment of Moscow’s forces in the region since the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.

Then, as now, oil had a big part to play in the Kremlin’s decision to strike. In 1979, as Russian tanks rolled into Kabul, oil was approaching $110 per barrel and the Islamic revolution in Iran weakened the West’s grip on the dynamics of supply and demand.