Russia’s state TASS news revealed over the weekend the extensive training it is putting its military police through in Syria. “Officers of the Russian military police, doing their service in Syria as part of the Russian forces in the country, practiced repelling a militant attack at the Hmeymim air base and an enemy’s attempt to infiltrate the naval base in Tartus from the sea, Hmeymim Base Commandant Vitaly Alisevich has told reporters.”This is an important detail because Russia doesn’t always reveal the extent of its commitment to Syria. It has deployed air and ground force assets for years, especially increasing them after 2015. Military police also played a key role in some Russian operations that involved being an intermediary or peacekeeping operation, such as in southern Syria and other areas. Russia has deployed forces in areas the US withdrew from in 2019 under a deal with Turkey. In southern Syria, Russia has helped back a corps of reconciled Syrian rebels.Russia’s goal is to stabilize Syria after years of civil war. It also does deals with Turkey and seeks to get the US to leave. Moscow also has de-confliction talks with Israel. This careful balance is often done on the cheap: Russia doesn’t want to dump huge military resources into Syria. However it does monitor how and whether its weapons are effective. “Units of the military police, created ten years ago, are now fulfilling the widest range of tasks in the Syrian Arab Republic,” says the report. The words “widest range” hint at a larger role. “Military police escorts convoys and guards checkpoints. It can also be used to reinforce troops in case of an assault. There are many other tasks as well. They train constantly, both in daytime and at night,” Alisevich said.This is interesting, because the article seeks to note that “Russian military police units have been deployed not just in Hmeymim and Tartus, but at various remote military posts in various parts of the country. They carry out joint patrols with Turkish servicemen, accompany cargo convoys, help to distribute humanitarian cargo and monitor compliance with the ceasefire.”In one sense this burnishes the image of Russians as a stakeholder and responsible actor. Russia wants to show that it can do stabilization and create peace. It wants to do the same in Azerbaijan, Libya and elsewhere. Russia is aware it has been slammed for backing military contractors, like the Wagner group, in places from central Africa to Asia. It wants to showcase the role of its military police.