Putin scores some wins but tensions with the West mount
It’s been a mixed year for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin may look like a winner after an abrupt U.S. decision to pull out of Syria. But Russia’s leader faces massive challenges in Syria and elsewhere, and he hasn’t moved an inch closer toward throwing off the Western sanctions that have emaciated Russia’s economy.
The Russian military campaign in Syria has achieved the Kremlin objective of shoring up Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule at a relatively modest cost and made Moscow an essential player in the Middle East. However, Syria lies in ruins after nearly eight years of fighting.
Even though the hasty pullout ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump could further bolster Moscow’s clout in Syria, it leaves Russia pitted against Turkey.