Well put. However, I think Russia wants to play the intransigent card. It knows what's going on, and is very aware of perceptions. I believe Russia wants to be feared and respected, not beloved. It's simply not interested in being popular, but in being autonomous, and impervious to pressure, even if the issue at hand renders the brutal -which they are-.
Islamic State destroys part of Syria's Temple of Bel, monitoring group says (Reuters)
from the article: Turkey: Iran, Russia will realize they must side with world on Syria