My understanding of identity hinges on a reality in that no other nation or group is a threat. I also understand that a good portion of life is insane which needs to be tempered. Furthermore, the sane are capable to lapse the other way at times. This is the puzzle of life that we all try to balance personally and as nations. How that balance is performed will be judged by others and as I judge myself as well.
Russia sees the situation in Syria as a civil war. As must the political leaders in my home Canada, agree with Russia. By stating Syria is experiencing civil war, the legal scales point to no intervention.
Had Russia said they feel the situation is an international situation it would set the basis for legal obligation to involve the Security Council (even more that it is) and then doing something. Ultimately the decision about such a situation is; having moral acceptance then knowing when to step in with. The world is not ready to step in.
What do such actions say about the character of the nations? There are a great many areas of conflict and to stop all of them is a goal, rarely achieved. On a judgement issue, the moment when it is necessary to kill another human is a very disgusting moment with no other option. At that moment you have stepped into a world of insanity.
When that insanity is over, all we can hope is that the balancing act is performed perfectly. Which ,will be indicated by no one seeing your reasons for taking such actions as cause for fear.