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Putin feels vindicated by Russian approach to Mideast

The Russian president maintains that a consistent focus on the threats from terrorism and failed states in Syria and the region has proven the right course.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual news conference in Moscow, December 20, 2012. Any solution to the conflict in Syria must ensure President Bashar al-Assad's forces and his opponents do not simply swap roles and fight on forever, Putin said on Thursday. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3BS3C

Though Ukraine may seem far from the Middle East — and even peripheral to it — the two are in fact inextricably linked in the minds of many senior Russian officials. This has important implications that others with interests in the region cannot ignore.

For Moscow, the connection is a clear and dangerous one. As Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu put it during a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Tajikistan earlier this year, “a scenario similar to the Arab Spring was used” to oust former President Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine.

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