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U.S.–Russia tensions calming in Syria, but still simmering well beyond

Employees remove the national flag of the United States from the building of the US Consulate General at Furstatskaya Street in St. Petersburg.
Employees removing the U.S. flag from the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg after the expulsion of U.S. diplomats from Russia, on March 31, 2018. Photo: Igor Russak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The run-up to the U.S. and allied missile strikes in Syria last week brought the U.S. and Russia closer to a direct military collision than they've been since the early 1980s. The strikes themselves turned out to be limited and carefully executed, but Syria remains a volatile arena for U.S.–Russia relations.

The big picture: While the proxy war in Syria does hold the potential for a clash between U.S. and Russian forces, it is only one of several theaters in which a larger conflict between the two countries is playing out.