the point isn't foreign policy or what Russians think about it. It's about the invincible leader going from victory to victory, making Russia important on the world stage and defeating mighty enemies.
Garry Kasparov shared on Facebook:
'This article isn't wrong analysis, exactly, but as so many Western analysts of Russia today, it ignores or underestimates the underlying principles of Putin's foreign actions and propaganda. He doesn't need or care about specifics or about how things affect Russia beyond the impact on his personal power.
Putin decided on an algorithm long ago: 1) Chaos and disunity among his enemies is good. 2) Conflict he can use to portray Russia as surrounded by enemies is necessary, and these must be big enemies to make him look big too. So, the EU, NATO, and, most of all, the USA. (Ukraine and Turkey are portrayed at US puppets, of course.) 3) The perception of 'Putin is winning' is far more important than actual impact on Russia because that perception is what matters for his survival.
Russian TV shows it very clearly this way: Obama said Assad must go and Putin said no, he will stay. Assad is still there, so who's the big boss? Putin backed Brexit and Obama backed Remain and what happened? Etc. That Syria is a huge waste of Russian lives and money is irrelevant. That Brexit and the downturn will hurt Russia is irrelevant. All that matters is that Putin looks too strong to topple in order to change his disastrous policies.'