Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (R) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

Putin and Erdogan Meet in Sochi to Flex New Mideast Muscle

The Russian resort town of Sochi was the scene for the first get-together of the putative “big winners” of the Syrian Sweepstakes in the aftermath of the American withdrawal from the civil war-ravaged nation. During that time, Russian President Vladimir Putin was Syrian strongman Bashar Al-Assad’s patron and often, defender. Much of the counterpoint to that support was provided by Putin. Now with the Americans out of the way, the two leaders talked about Erdogan’s demand for a “safe zone” along the Turkey-Syria border. American-less Kurds have turned to Assad, and as a joint force must be aware of Putin’s limitations easily enforced by his own forces in Syria.

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