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Putin Claims Victory at Syria Base on Triumphal Mideast Tour

  • Three-nation trip seeks to reassert Russia’s Middle East role
  • Pentagon casts doubt on Russian plan to withdraw troops
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How Putin Became the Symbol of Russian Power
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President Vladimir Putin made a surprise stop at Russia’s airbase in Syria to declare “victory” in his two-year military campaign, part of a whirlwind three-nation Middle East tour aimed at demonstrating his growing influence in the region at U.S. expense.

After ordering troops to begin pulling out of Syria, Putin flew to Cairo to seal a $30 billion deal in talks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to build North Africa’s first nuclear power plant. He then traveled to Turkey to discuss Syria and reach a deal on financing of a defensive missile sale with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Russian leader’s burst of Middle East diplomacy comes amid tensions between the U.S. and many of its traditional allies in the region.