Oct 15, 2019

Russia's Syrian win

Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS/Getty Images

As the U.S. carries out a sudden, near-total withdrawal from Syria, Russia is rushing into the breach.

Why it matters: The hasty U.S. exit from Syria makes it certain the outcome there will bear Vladimir Putin’s imprint. Russia entered Syria in 2015 to help dictator Bashar al-Assad regain his grip on the country, and Russia has steadily gained influence in the wider Middle East.

Driving the news: Facing a Turkish offensive and abandoned by their American allies, Kurdish forces moved quickly to cut a deal with Assad and his patron, Putin. But the arrival of Syrian troops in northeast Syria set up a potential collision with Turkey.

  • "This would simply be unacceptable,” Alexander Lavrentyev, Russia’s envoy for Syria, said today. “And therefore we will not allow it, of course.”
  • Russia’s Defense Ministry says it now has troops along the front lines keeping Turkish and Syrian forces apart.

The big picture: Turkey wants to force Kurdish forces from its border region and resettle Syrian refugees there. Assad wants to regain control over all of Syria. The Kurds want protection from Turkey and a say in their political future.

  • All three depend to some extent on Russia, which has relationships with all the key players and a military presence in Syria, says Rob Malley, CEO of International Crisis Group and a former Obama administration official. 
  • “It’s hard to see a party other than Russia at this point that could play the role of orchestrating a settlement," he says.

Go deeper: Trump's step back from the border turns into a sprint from Syria

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Trump accuses Twitter of interfering in 2020 election

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President Trump responded via tweets Tuesday evening to Twitter fact-checking him for the first time on his earlier unsubstantiated posts claiming mail-in ballots in November's election would be fraudulent.

What he's saying: "Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election.They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post," the president tweeted. "Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!"

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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