The Russians feel the need to protect Assad, as he will prevent the Qataris from building a gas pipeline to the Mediterranean, which would threaten the Russian energy company Gazprom. Thus, to the Russians, the stakes are high.
Further, they all know they are dealing with a complete idiot in the form of Barack Obama, at least as it comes to international relations. They certainly do not respect him, and will challenge him boldly, to see what happens. Sounds like Khruschev and Kennedy back during the Cuban missile crisis, except Obama is no Kennedy, as everyone now knows.
That, my friends, is a recipe for disaster. From the article: