The Associated Press RUSSIAN RELATIONS: In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran. After watching for years as the United States called the shots in the region, Russian President Vladimir Putin is seizing the reins of power in the Middle East, establishing footholds and striking alliances with unlikely partners. From Syria's battlefields to its burgeoning partnership with Iran and Turkey to its deepening ties with Saudi Arabia, Russia is stepping in to fill a void left by the United States.

The Associated Press RUSSIAN RELATIONS: In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran. After watching for years as the United States called the shots in the region, Russian President Vladimir Putin is seizing the reins of power in the Middle East, establishing footholds and striking alliances with unlikely partners. From Syria's battlefields to its burgeoning partnership with Iran and Turkey to its deepening ties with Saudi Arabia, Russia is stepping in to fill a void left by the United States.

Russia takes on Mideast diplomacy as US retreats

By ZEINA KARAM The Associated Press
This article was published November 3, 2017 at 4:00 a.m.

BEIRUT -- After watching for years as the United States called the shots in the region, Russian President Vladimir Putin is seizing the reins of diplomacy in the Middle East, establishing footholds and striking alliances with unlikely partners.

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