After propping up the regime of Bashar al-Assad and prolonging Syria's civil war; after destroying Aleppo with air strikes that caused massive civilian casualties; after violating cease-fire after cease-fire; after all of this, Russia is now apparently asking world powers to pony up billions of dollars for Syria's reconstruction.
According to a report in The Financial Times this week, European and Gulf states are balking at the idea, saying any aid must be tied to a political transition.
In other words, if there is going to be any aid, Assad must go.
We're entering the phase where Russia's big push into the Middle East gets tricky for Moscow.
They've upended Western policy in Syria and, against the odds, they've kept their client regime in power.
Vladimir Putin is having his "Mission Accomplished" moment. And now comes the hard part.
Because Putin is about to meet the Pottery Barn Rule: You break it, you own it.
Now of course, trying to get others to pay for the messes it creates is par for the course for Putin's Kremlin.
It expects Ukraine to pay for the reconstruction of war-torn territories in the Donbas -- which are war-torn only due to a Russian invasion.
And it's said the West should compensate Moscow for sanctions imposed after Russia's aggression in Ukraine -- as well as for the adverse effects of countersanctions Russia imposed on the West.
Putin's been crowing for some time about reviving Russia's military might and great power status.
But being a great power is expensive -- and the bill is about to come due.
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