It has long been my thesis that as an unabashed Russian nationalist the long-term objective of Putin in the middle East is the same as the Czars; that is to re-establish Christian worship in the ancient (dating from the time of the Eastern Roman Empire) Christian patriarchal basilica St Sophia in Constantinople (Istanbul). Because it is the cultural root of Russian civilization and so Muslim worship in it as a Mosque is as much an affront to them as if aliens conquered New York City and made an ostentatious home in it would be to Americans.
By the way the first thing that would go would be the four enormous minarets the Muslim erected around it using Greek Christian slave labor five hundred years ago.
Now from an article by Raymond Ibrahim in American thinker today we read this:
“Back in February 2012, Vladimir Putin met with representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church. They described to him the horrific treatment Christians are experiencing around the world, especially the Muslim world:
The head of External Church Relations, Metropolitan Illarion, said that every five minutes one Christian was dying for his or her faith in some part of the world, specifying that he was talking about such countries as Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan and India. The cleric asked Putin to make the protection of Christians one of the foreign policy directions in future.
“This is how it will be, have no doubt,” Putin answered. “