The following is an excerpt from Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov | February 14, 2016 | Bloomberg.com |
Vladimir Putin is trying to cash in the gains of the biggest military wager of his career.
Russian forces have helped Putin’s Syrian ally Bashar al-Assad drive back rebel forces after five years of fighting. The momentum clearly established, the Kremlin gave the green light to an agreement with the U.S. and other powers on a partial cease-fire and humanitarian aid shipments due to take effect this week.
For Russia, the deal averts a collapse of the peace talks, which keeps alive a chance to solidify Assad’s position and mitigates the risk of an escalation of the conflict with U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The U.S. wants to step up the fight against Islamic State, while Europe is looking to stem the worst refugee crisis since World War II and alleviate a rising terrorist threat.
Putin’s military gamble in Syria -- Russia’s biggest operation outside its borders since the Cold War -- has given him the negotiating power he sought, said Ayham Kamel, Middle East and North Africa director at Eurasia Group, a consultancy.
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