Stories by Anna Borshchevskaya

Expert Voices

Syria could be on Trump-Putin agenda, but options for a deal are slim

Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad shaking hands and smiling
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Sochi, Russia on May 17, 2018. Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Days before Donald Trump meets with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16, the agenda for the summit remains unclear. Putin craves legitimacy that only Western recognition can grant him, and his greatest demands include the West's recognizing his annexation of Crimea and lifting sanctions.

Yes, but: Congress is bipartisan in its opposition to recognizing Crimea as part of Russia, and it can also veto a rollback of Russia sanctions, no matter what Trump might promise in Helsinki. Thus if any deal comes out of the Trump-Putin summit, it's likely to be on Syria, where the West has had the least interest in opposing Putin’s intervention, and where Congress lacks similar leverage.

Expert Voices

Moscow exploiting Israeli-Syrian clashes for regional influence

crashed missile
An Israeli missile that landed in a southern Lebanese town near the Syrian border on Feb. 10, 2018. Photo: Ali Dia / AFP / Getty Images

Israel’s strike on Syrian targets earlier this month, in response to an Iranian drone that launched from Syria and entered Israeli airspace, marked the most serious clash to date between Israel and Iran and its local proxies. It was also the latest example of Russia's interjection into the conflict. Indeed, discussion of further military action by Israel only ended after a call between President Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Why it matters: As hostilities intensify in Syria, Russia is poised to expand its role in the region, portraying itself as a neutral broker to further the Kremlin’s   own interests.