Putin's Play in Syria

Russia could help end civil war in exchange for concessions on Ukraine.

Let's make a deal.

Photographer: Salah Malkawi/Getty Images

What is Vladimir Putin’s true Syria game? Russia has now ensconced a meaningful mini-air force of fighters, bombers and helicopters in an airfield near Latakia, where its sole plausible purpose is to prop up President Bashar Assad's regime. But keeping Assad’s government alive and prolonging the Syrian civil war isn’t an end in itself for Putin, who naturally wants to enhance Russia’s presence in the region.

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