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Much ado in the Mideast: 3 theories on Russia’s Syria trips

Russia’s calendar has been packed with official trips to and from the Middle East, raising speculation about new military developments in Syria.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu meets with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Syria September 12, 2017. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. - RC18742B64B0

MOSCOW — Russia has been busy. Really busy. The past couple of weeks have arguably been the country’s most bustling period on the Middle East track:

  • On Sept. 12, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu paid a snap visit to Damascus.
  • In his second trip to the region during the past two weeks, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in the southern resort city of Sochi.
  • Top representatives of both Khalifa Hifter of the Libyan National Army and Fayez al-Sarraj of the Libyan Presidential Council met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in Moscow, with the latter representative also attending to Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov in Grozny.

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