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Ukraine’s effect on Russia's Syria policy? Not much

While Moscow will be preoccupied with the crisis in Ukraine, its support for a political settlement in Syria will not vary.
Participants drum with sticks and burn tyres during a performance called "freedom", in support of Ukrainian anti-government protesters who held rallies in Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Independence Square in Kiev, in front of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood in central St. Petersburg February 23, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTX19CK6
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Within about 24 hours last week, Russian officials supported UN Security Council Resolution 2139 on humanitarian access in Syria and refused to sign a political agreement between ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and three of his political opponents. (The Russian representative, Vladimir Lukin, would have signed as a witness, alongside three EU foreign ministers, not as a party to the deal.) Taking into account Moscow’s long-standing position on Syria’s civil war — that it supports a Syrian-led political settlement — this may look puzzling on the surface, in that Ukrainians appeared to have reached a settlement of their own. 

Nevertheless, it reflects key differences in Moscow’s assessments of the two crises, with important implications. There may also be significant practical linkages between these otherwise distant events.

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