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What Vladimir Putin is really up to in Syria

What Vladimir Putin is really up to in Syria

Secretary of State John F. Kerry has for years been trying to produce a diplomatic process that could not just alleviate the suffering in Syria but, in time, end the conflict there. Not long ago, he was optimistic that his efforts were bearing fruit. So much so that after the November talks in Vienna, when Russia and others agreed that negotiations should begin in January, be accompanied by a cease-fire and culminate in elections after an 18-month transition process, the secretary declared: “We're weeks away conceivably from the possibility of a big transition in Syria.”

Unfortunately, there has been no big transition in Syria — and...

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