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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Damascus. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, left, speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Damascus, Jan. 7, 2020 (pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin of Sputnik via AP Images).

How Heightened U.S.-Iran Conflict Plays to Russia’s Advantage

Friday, Jan. 10, 2020

The assassination of Iran’s top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, raises a lot of questions about what an all-out war between the United States and Iran might look like. The simple answer is that it will be bad, but how bad may depend as much on Russia as it does on the U.S. and Iran.

If there is one player in the dangerous drama unfolding in the Middle East with the ability to flip the script, it’s Russian President Vladimir Putin. Five years ago, Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, dismissed Russia as a “regional power” capable at most of menacing weaker neighbors like Ukraine. Today, Putin appears to be making a convincing case that when it comes to influencing security in the Middle East, Russia, not the U.S., is now the indispensable nation. ...

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