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Leonid Bershidsky

Putin’s Trolling of Trump Isn’t Just About Missiles

Russia’s offer to sell air defense systems to Saudi Arabia is really a bid to replace the U.S. as the region’s go-to problem solver. 

More than trolling.

More than trolling.

Photographer: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images Europe

President Vladimir Putin’s offer to sell Russian air defense systems to Saudi Arabia is about more than mere trolling, even though it caused laughter from Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.  Putin was trying to persuade the entire Middle East that working with him is more effective than cooperating with the U.S. 

One could regard it as a kind of mafia-style protection offer: The new, more aggressive gangster on the block is making a bid because the current king of the streets has grown lazy and risk-averse.