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Russian President Vladimir Putin during a signing ceremony in Moscow, March 21.
Russian President Vladimir Putin during a signing ceremony in Moscow, March 21.
(MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/NYT)

Patrick Martin

Is Russia setting its sights on the Middle East?

In the face of strong Western criticism and sanctions brought against Russia for its annexation of Crimea, President Vladimir Putin, increasingly popular at home, is looking for ways to expand his country’s international clout. He doesn’t have to go far to find them.

For decades, during the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union jostled for primacy in the Middle East, with U.S. allies such as Israel, Turkey and Iran facing off against the likes of Russian-supplied Egypt, Syria and Iraq.