His intervention in Syria has been a game changer and what happens there now lies, to a large extent, in his hands. The Russians are allying with the Kurds, unfazed by the Turkish anger this has provoked.And, crucially, they are now returning to Egypt to an extent not seen for 44 years, since they were kicked out by President Anwar Sadat.
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Their apprehension is that the advanced equipment already in situ in the Middle East will end up with Iran, viewed as an existential threat to the Jewish state, or with other Arab countries, thus eroding the air superiority that is Israel’s primary advantage over its neighbours.
It is this military might that is underpinning President Vladimir Putin’s strategic triumphs.
This is in marked contrast, Western military planners have noted, to how quickly Nato began to feel the strain when bombing Libya and Kosovo.
One reason for the dearth of coalition sorties is that its Sunni state members are carrying out scarcely any missions, focusing instead on Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Russian military jets have, at times, been carrying out more sorties in a day in Syria than the US-led coalition has done in a month.
The Russian navy has launched ballistic missiles from the Caspian Sea 900 miles way, and kept supply lines going to Syria.
The introduction by the Kremlin of advanced air-defence systems has gained impetus since the shooting down of a Russian jet by the Turks.
The S-400 Triumph system is a source of great Israeli worry should it fall into “wrong hands”.
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Their army’s equipment and strategy was “outmoded”; their air force’s bombs and missiles were “more dumb than smart”; their navy was “more rust than ready”.
One of the most senior analysts in Israeli military intelligence told in Tel Aviv last week: “Anyone who wants anything done in this region is beating a path to Moscow.” Mr Putin has relished pointing out the significance of the West seeing “for the first time that these weapons do exist, that they are of high quality, and that we have well-trained people who can put them to effective use.