Magazine September 30, 2019, Issue

Russia’s Middle East Power Play

A checkpoint on the outskirts of Damascus, with portraits of Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad, 2018 (Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)
Or, what Putin learned from Nixon and Kissinger

Turkey flouted months of American warnings this summer and took delivery of the Russian-made S-400 air-defense system — triggering Ankara’s expulsion from the F-35 stealth-fighter program and obligating the imposition of additional sanctions by the Trump administration under U.S. law. Most immediately, these developments mark a new and precipitous deterioration in the long-unraveling U.S.–Turkish alliance. But Ankara’s decision to choose a Russian weapons system over a U.S. one also points to a wider and even more ominous geopolitical shift: the growing influence of the Kremlin as a strategic force across the greater Middle East, at America’s expense.

For close observers of

Vance SerchukMr. Serchuk is the executive director of the KKR Global Institute and an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

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