The timing of last night's agreement with Russia on a "cessation of hostilities" in Syria is highly appropriate.
It came exactly one year after the Minsk cease-fire, which was supposed to stop the war in Ukraine.
And we all know how that worked out.
So you'll forgive me for having a foreboding sense of deja vu.
In fact the patterns in Ukraine and Syria have been disturbingly similar.
First, Russia launches a military offensive to establish facts on the ground, all the while lying about what it is actually doing.
In Ukraine, Moscow denied it was doing anything, when in reality it was using its military to carve out fictitious separatist "republics" in Donbas.
In Syria, it claimed it was fighting terrorists, when in reality it was helping its ally, Bashar al-Assad, crush his opponents and expand the territory he controls.
Next, the Kremlin legalizes and legitimizes its ill-gotten gains in a cease-fire deal.
It's the military equivalent of money laundering.
This was captured brilliantly yesterday in a tweet by Jackson Diehl, the Washington Post's Deputy Editorial Page Editor:
"Putin's Ukraine-Syria model: 1) gain a winning military hand 2) offer a bad political deal for a cease-fire 3) ignore the cease-fire."
Russia did all three of these things in Ukraine. And so far it's done the first two things in Syria -- but stay tuned.
Number three can't be far behind.
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