On the streets of Damascus in Syria people have been reacting to the partial withdrawal of Russian forces.
The capital has always remained in the hands of the Syrian government, where support for leader Bashar al-Assad is strong.
One Damascus resident said: “The withdrawal indicates the Russian presence in Syria is a question of friendship and not one of sovereignty.”
Another resident, a journalist, said: “Russia is a decent player in the Syrian case. They reduce their forces as the situation requires.”
Hossein Royvaran, an Iran-based analyst maintains removing Assad would result in chaos and pose a danger to the entire region.
“If the Geneva talks fail, I think Russia will go back to Syria. If a ceasefire is not maintained and is violated by different political groups in Syria, then military intervention would be Syria’s only option and Russia will definitely play a key role in that option.”
Another Gulf-based analyst says Moscow’s ability to make Assad negotiate is part of the Kremlin wanting to appear as a Middle East peace negotiator.
Theodore Karasik told reporters: “I think this move is significant for the future of Assad and his associates because it makes them part of the negotiating process.
“It is as if big brother has taken little brother by the ear and has told him what to do.”
But there are mixed reactions among many other players in the Syria conflict, especially in those areas where fighting was at its worst, and where opponents to Assad are bitter about the role played by Moscow.