Until now, Russia has been wholly focused on crushing IS, not for the love of Syria, but for fear of its global mission that it might some day make itself just as cozy in Chechnya - a republic under Russian Federal control demanding independence - which has given Mr. Putin a hard time for years despite his iron fist policy. The nuisance value of Al-Nusra Front hasn't yet unnerved Russian officials who view ANF as a weaker and more localized terror group interested in establishing itself within Syria. That storyline could get more threatening.
Stories of Kremlin aircraft chasing ISIL terrorists have been spreading like wildfire since the past three weeks. Several alternative sites are flooded with pictures of air force jets flying in the blue skies (and every place in this planet has a blue sky, not just Syria) with insets of Putin's macho photoshopped images fighting lions and giants. Yet no good news of terrorists on the run in Syria and Iraq. Quite the opposite. They are lounging across their occupied strongholds without a worry in the world and getting plenty of new recruits. Until now, the scenario is uncomfortably reminiscent of the US coalition's disguised air strikes.
Destruction of Syria is just as little a matter of concern to Russia as it has been to the United States as long as their different interests are served. US goal is to dislodge Assad regardless of the extent of ruination caused. Russia's concerns for itself are deep but less explicit from the outside.
Eliminating all possibilities of Al-Qaeda infiltration into Chechnya and the surrounding region is definitely one of Russia's major goals.
So, will Russia go it alone? Considering several reports on Putin's eagerness "to coordinate a campaign with US and its allies targeting ISIS," that question is unanswerable at the moment. Time will tell. One can only confirm that Syria doesn't need disguised air strikes. It desperately needs to be cleansed of foreign invaders as the first step to end the war, a need brazenly thwarted by U.S. and its allies. In case Putin intends to be stupid enough to use this episode for making common cause with the West and distracting it from the issue of Ukraine, he might just end up shooting himself in the foot. If ever in future the West seriously wants to pursue the problem of Al-Qaeda, it won't require Putin's cooperation for hunting its terror buddies .. be it ISIL or ANF. And if Al-Qaeda in Syria can reach Kabul and Herat in the east, Sinai and Najd in the south, Benghazi and Tripoli south-west, then why not Grozny in the north barely 750 miles away?
Online networking sites have become a great fantasy world for cajoling star gazers who wish to view the world the way they they would want it to be, not the way it is.