Russia has an opportunity to provide leadership and maintain continued influence in Syria by ensuring that the generals it helped train, and the Baathist officials with whom it has decades-long ties, remove Assad but maintain the Syrian state infrastructure (unlike Iraq's disastrous de-Bathifications).
Moscow felt betrayed by the West's intervention in Libya, and fears being sidelined in Syria if Assad is removed from power. These concerns need to be addressed urgently. Syrian opposition leaders need to guarantee Russia that its position in a post-Assad Syria would remain strong, or even be stronger if Russia helps broker a transition to a democratic Syria with greater pluralism. Credible assurances by the opposition, can help win over Syrian generals and senior politicians.