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For Putin, Turkish move into Syria a chance to ramp up Middle East role

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Turkey's incursion into Syria is an opportunity for Russia to dial up its influence in the region as Washington appears to be pulling back, but the risks to Moscow's diplomacy will rise the longer the operation goes on, people close to the Kremlin say.

In a phone call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan before the operation against U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters, Russian leader Vladimir Putin, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, made clear he hoped the incursion would be limited in time and scale, the sources said.

"The sooner this conflict situation is over, the better for everyone," said Andrei Klimov, a senior pro-Putin lawmaker in Russia's Senate.

"I really hope our Turkish partners do everything to avoid even a chance conflict on the ground with Syrian government forces and even more so with Russian soldiers."

For Russia, it's a delicate balancing act. It has pledged to use its air power to help Assad retake all the territory he has lost in Syria's eight-year-old war and has repeatedly stressed the importance of the country's territorial integrity.

But it is also working with Turkey and Iran to push for a peaceful settlement it hopes will........

© Japan Today