By Lili Bayer
As Russia withdraws from Syria, it is time to ask what’s next for the Kremlin’s strategy. Russia’s involvement in Syria, as Dr. George Friedman pointed out earlier this week, was never really about the Syrian crisis. Russia’s chief strategic vulnerabilities are in Europe. As the European Union fragments, Moscow’s top concerns will be U.S. involvement in Central and Eastern Europe and Turkey’s transformation into an assertive power in the Black Sea region.
Maintaining a Neutral Buffer
Russia’s weakening and Europe’s fragmentation are contributing to a shift in the competition over buffer zones between the two regions. Before the onset of Russia’s current financial troubles, Moscow worked to boost its position in Ukraine, Central Europe, the Balkans and further afield through energy deals, loans and investments. Low world energy prices have undermined the Kremlin’s ability to offer attractive energy deals, and Russia’s economic problems are li
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