Russia now a key force in the Middle East

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, at the World Energy Congress in Istanbul on Oct. 10. © AP

 

TOKYO — On Sept. 28, when OPEC made a surprise agreement to cut oil production, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had a heated phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. A cease-fire in Syria brokered by the U.S. and Russia was on the brink of collapse. Kerry and Lavrov would continue to talk during the following two days but in the end failed to keep the truce alive.

On Oct. 3, the U.S. government proclaimed bilateral peace talks regarding Syria dead.

Just like that, Russia has emerged as the decisive force in two situations reshaping Middle East politics — the Syrian civil war and oil prices.

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