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The quick visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hmeimim air base in Syria was all about Russian domestic politics.Putin's second announcement of military withdrawal from Syria may, like the first (in March 2016), be more rhetorical than real.The timing of Putin's victory lap in Syria may have been influenced by a gratuitous gift emanating from American domestic politics: President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his decision to move the American Embassy accordingly.Indeed, Putin departed Syria to take his Potemkin great power act to Egypt.The days of Trump administration officials assuring outsiders that Russia and Iran will surely split over Syria and that Syria's reconstruction needs will force Russia to move beyond Assad appear, mercifully, to be over.Indeed, this writer warned long ago that Russian actions east of the Euphrates and Russian attitudes toward the restoration of Assad's ruinous governance in areas liberated from Daesh would tell Washington all it needs to know about the prospects for Russian cooperation in Syria.If aggressive Russian aerial penetration into eastern Syria is any indication, Vladimir Putin calculates the change of management in Washington has no impact on American actions in Syria.
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