If the ships deploy to Syria, it may raise suspicions among Western nations who’ve sought to reduce Russian support for Syria. At the UN, Russia has stymied efforts to pass tougher resolutions against the Syrian regime.
Officially Russia says its longstanding support of Syria stems from its desire to avoid regime change, especially one supported by a Western military intervention as happened in Libya, writes an editorial in South Africa's Independent Online. Its concern is most likely that regime change could introduce a new, Islamist government that would be less stable and less warm to Moscow. This fear is likely to be magnified now that Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is the apparent victor in the country’s presidential election.
“Russia is obviously concerned about Islamic regimes and perhaps most important of all it is terrified of chaos,” said Mark Galeotti, who chairs the Center for Global Affairs at New York University in an article by the Independent Online. “Russia feels that the West doesn't know how to handle regime change and that the outcome is almost invariably the kind of chaos from which Islamic extremist movements arise.”