Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin addresses the United Nations Security Council during a high level meeting on Syria at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
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After turning the tide on the ground in Syria with his country's military might, Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to cement his authority by forging an unlikely peace deal.By combining muscle with realpolitik Russia has struck an improbable understanding with Turkey on Syria, filling a vacuum left by the United States that has effectively sidelined the West.PUTIN ON TOP When Putin launched Russia's bombing campaign to back Syrian President Bashar Assad in September 2015, his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama warned that Moscow risked getting stuck in a "quagmire".Untroubled by public opinion at home, Putin faced down ferocious international criticism of his intervention and the brutal bombardment of Aleppo to help Assad secure his position.The future of a resurgent Assad remains a major stumbling block and there is no consensus about how Syria will be governed.Simultaneous to announcing the cease-fire, Putin, by announcing a "reduction" in Russian forces, sent a sign that he may be looking to step back from Syria.
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