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Putin lays out Moscow’s new Mideast strategy

A new foreign policy strategy document released by Russia includes a comprehensive section on the Middle East — but will there be a shift in Moscow’s priorities in the region?
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during his annual state of the nation address at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov - RTSU5AA
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On Dec. 1, Vladimir Putin delivered his annual address to the Federal Assembly — Russia’s analogue to the State of the Union. In his 13th 70-minute address as president of Russia, Putin focused primarily on domestic matters — the economy and social issues in particular — with only about seven minutes dedicated to foreign policy issues.

The main message reflected the conjunction of “firmness and flexibility” that is characteristic of his speeches: “We aren’t seeking a confrontation with anyone. We aren’t seeking enemies, we need friends. But we will not allow our own interests to be neglected either.” He continued, “We understand the measure of our responsibility and are genuinely prepared to take part in solving global and regional problems where our participation is relevant, demanded and needed.”

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