There are between 5,000-7,000 Russian Muslims fighting for ISIS in Northern Syria.
They are managed by NATO Turkey, who in previous occasions used them inside Russia in the first Chechen war, the second Chechen war and on going terrorist ops against Russia from the mountains of Caucasus.
Heaven forbid that these NATO led Russian terrorists should EVER over run any of the several Russian military installations in North West Syria with the aid of NATO Turkey.
And if they are triumphant, they may well march against Russia again, after.
That is why Russia after four years is overtly fighting ISIS in Syria for the first time....and not the Ukraine.
Using 30 jet fighters....and 750 airforce personnel, and 1250 marines protecting the bases, backed by 20 helicopters. This is a very small commitment, which Russia can sustain for 100's of years...costing about $1 billion a year.
However the objective is NOT sustainability, but the progressive elimination of NATO's ISIS. And the comprehensive defeat of the Russian ISIS element, which means:
1. Some Russian ground forces are required to fight with the Syrian army.Spetznaz etc
2. Bolstering the Syrian forces towards 600,000..and equipped with better hardware.
3. Encouraging greater Iranian participation....Pasdaran and Basij forces. The Iraqis can stay in Iraq and fight their own battles within their highly fragmented state. However the elimination of NATO's ISIS in Syria, must also mean the elimination of ISIS in Iraq, eventually. You can't have one without the other.
4. Encouraging participation of other nations with a similar world view....so that it is not seen as a lone struggle of Russia.
Russia Not Planning Formal Ground Operations
by Jason Ditz at antiwar.com
Russian military official Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov reiterated today that there are no plans for Russian ground troops to get directly involved in the Syrian Civil War, but said it was very likely that Russian “volunteers” will start showing up in the ranks of the Syrian Army.
Komoyedov predicted that a “unit of Russian volunteers, conflict veterans, will probably appear in the ranks of the Syrian Army” soon, saying that such fighters would be drawn to the conflict by the money to be made in such a fight.
Though mercenary fighting is technically illegal in Russia, the law on that is seldom enforced, and the admiral conceded that the emergence of such volunteer forces in Syria “cannot be stopped.” Veterans of the Russian military were a common sight during the Ukraine Civil War as well.
Though such “volunteer” groups inevitably raise speculation that they are operating under Russian government control, the reality may be much more subtle, that Russia is simply more willing to overlook mercenary work when it is carried out for factions with whom the Russian Federation is allied.
Such fighters could be welcomed by the Syrian government, which is struggling to keep its military numbers up after years of war, and while Syria has had no shortage of Shi’ite volunteer militias from Iraq and Iran, they have tended to be untrained and have struggled to fight combat-hardened rebel forces.