Moreover, if the prisoner's dilemma were to be considered a genus, its particular species that is applicable to colonial, post-Soviet, oligarchic Russia and its elite ought to be called the Judas dilemma named so after Judas Iscariot who serves as a leading archetype of betrayal in the West. Judas' 30 thirty pieces of silver (equivalent of a one-year pay of an enlisted Roman officer) has turned into billions and hundreds of millions of dollars of the select apparatchiks and KGB officers.
Before the elections or at least before leaving, the Obama administration would like to see some resolution, read "win," either in Syria or in Donbass and, if possible, in both places. The Kremlin or colonial oligarchy would like to oblige very much and is trying its relative best to do so, often using the old, much worn-out mask of a naive good girl who keeps trusting her rapists or customers and taking them on their word. Some minimal scruples and appearances need to be maintained as long as the "all the truth and nothing but the truth" is feared as much as the holy water or cross is a bane to vampires in the old mythology of catechism.
The oligarchic regime having run out of the tidbits/timbits of its legitimacy and pretense, however, has to organize still (for now) the Duma elections on September 18 in a way that, if dreams come true, would somehow recharge the corpse of the anti-Russian system with some new borrowed, artificial glow of legitimacy, even if this glow is to be produced by the worms of the terminal decay and decomposition.
This means that for Russian oligarchy and the Kremlin dropping the rest of Donbass into the lap of the Bandera, anti-Russian fascists before the "elections" is not a good idea unless the Kremlin recycles its another worn-off meme or conspiracy theory that presents Putin as lone hero with a secret plan (known only to his fans and propagandists) which would overthrow and cleanse his own government, advisers and oligarchic buddies who or a part of whom might take the blame and play the fall guy.
In this situation, selling or betraying Syria first is more acceptable to the Kremlin than doing that to Donbass--before the September 18 elections. For some time, the Kremlin did hope to trade one for the other or, to be more precise, to trade Crimea (recognition of Crimea as part of Russia) for either Donbass or Syria or for both and for the assured further degradation and impoverishment/plunder of Russia. Except for the latter (the last item), the US, having kept this dangled before the Kremlin, has refused such a bargain. Having sold their "soul" a long time ago, selling or betraying the rest of what remains is just a matter of time and patience or operational details. Thus, for the Kremlin, keeping the situation in Donbass as it is (daily massive artillery shelling and duels), which the Russian state media is told to ignore, is for the time being most desirable, even though all such policies and the massive corruption of Russian oligarchy are only reinforcing the anti-Russian sentiments and pro-fascist currents in Ukraine.
In Syria though, the Kremlin is running into the hardened front of Syrian patriotism and the largely firm position of President Assad.
The question "Whom to sell for Judas' reward first and how to do it" is thus now the key question--the circle which the Kremlin tries to square. But since in the same spirit and in a similar way the Soviet Union, socialism, the world socialist system and allies had been sold by the same Judases and with a similar calculus before, Russian oligarchy does have already a certain practice and experience in such sort of deals.
Specifically, in Syria this pressure and Moscow bargaining translate now into the Turkish invasion and into the battle of Aleppo all the while the US is pushing Syria through Russia to be put under a US-run regime of what the Syrian government and the Syrian army can and cannot fight and defend.
In Donbass, Moscow is trying hard to delay a possible Ukrainian all-out offensive at least after the Duma elections. In the meantime, as before, the Kremlin's actual domestic policy, is to try to make the Russians as much as possible poor. If, in doing so, the populace can also be kept "grateful to Putin," only the better. If not, then, as we have seen with the Kuban farmers, there is the new Nazguard under Putin's direct command whose officially modified, politically correct name is "Rosguard" that smacks of a "rose", that is, pink lip stick. Think "pink fascists."
Since the Obama administration would like to secure legacy and wins in both theaters--both in Syria and Donbass--in order not to preempt one by trying to achieve another, Washington might try to get Moscow buckle and do its Judas work in Syria first or to make Aleppo and Donbass go almost at the same time. That is it if the Obama administration would like to win for Obama and itself such imperial kudos. Otherwise the way in which Donbass and the Kremlin are managed (also via the conflict in Donbass) in its current form already serves as a built-in system of Russia's steadily working degradation and self-nihilation, not just humiliation. Thus, should the Obama administration be less prone to score, less in a hurry or less mindful of the timing of the strategic stages, keeping the conflict in Donbass (and even in Syria) they way it is is already ensuring its strategic predominance that leaves Russia in its present form no good options or even ways out, and, of course, Washington knows this. Whether they will press the pace and their luck, as the administration appears to be doing, depends much on the character of the policy people and their strength or frenzy of thymotic desire.
"Mark's Gospel states that the chief priests were looking for a sly way to arrest Jesus. They decided not to do so during the feast [of the Passover], since they were afraid that people would riot; instead, they chose the night before the feast to arrest him. According to Luke's account, Satan entered Judas at this time.
According to the account in the Gospel of John, Judas carried the disciples' money bag or box (Greek: γλωσσόκομον, glōssokomon), but John's Gospel makes no mention of the thirty pieces of silver as a fee for betrayal. The evangelist comments in John 12:5-6 that Judas spoke fine words about giving money to the poor, but the reality was "not that he cared for the poor, but [that] he was a thief ...."
"A Judas goat is a trained goat used in general animal herding. The Judas goat is trained to associate with sheep or cattle, leading them to a specific destination. In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead sheep to slaughter, while its own life is spared. Judas goats are also used to lead other animals to specific pens and onto trucks. ... The term is a reference to the biblical character Judas Iscariot."