The conflict in Syria has provided Russian President Vladimir Putin with a golden opportunity to strengthen his own and Russia's position abroad. In recent months, Mr Putin's image in the West has been seriously tarnished by Russia's new anti-gay laws and his handling of the Pussy Riot case. Furthermore, backing the Assad regime in the Syrian conflict is a risky strategy that could make things even worse for Mr Putin. Nonetheless, so far the outcome of this conflict has proved to be quite the opposite. Staying on the offensive and anticipating his opponents' reactions, Mr Putin has succeeded in dominating the debate about Syria, and his latest moves are likely to improve Russia's image abroad. In the Middle East, Moscow has become an important and powerful player, whereas Washington runs the risk of being seen as passive and ambivalent. In the West, Mr Putin's anti-war message and defence of international law may help shift the focus away from his own criticized domestic policies to the alleged imperialism and warmongering of the United States. It is, of course, too early to tell how the conflict in Syria will play out, but so far Mr Putin has gained the upper hand and Russia is rivalling the US for influence on the world stage.
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FNS: Syrien-avtalet och Rysslands trovärdighet 20130915