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To woo Trump, will Kremlin show restraint in Syria?

Russian officials do not expect President-elect Donald Trump to roll over for President Vladimir Putin and are pondering a wide range of options the new US leader will present on the Middle East.
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting on economic issues at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, November 11, 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin/Mikhail Klimentyev via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RTX2T73B

The first phone conversation between President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Donald Trump took place on Nov. 14. The official press release read, “Putin and Trump agreed that the current state of US-Russia relations is unsatisfactory and agreed to actively work toward their normalization and constructive cooperation on a broad range of issues.” It also stated that both parties emphasized the need to “return to a pragmatic, mutually beneficial cooperation that meets the interests of the two states as well as stability and security in the world.”

For some, the tone of the conversation as well as its underlying message inspired hopes for a renewal of the relationship between Moscow and Washington; for others it was an embodiment of the worst fears associated with the “Trump-Putin tandem.” Until now, most assessments of Trump’s possible presidency were that as an amateur in international politics, Trump would inevitably be outfoxed by Putin, based on Trump’s positive remarks about him.

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