In ramping up its military involvement in Syria's civil war, Russia appears to be betting that the West, horrified by the Islamic State group's spread and an escalating migrants crisis, may be willing to quietly tolerate President Bashar Assad for a while, perhaps as part of a transition.
The logic is that prioritizing the fight with the jihadis means accepting Assad as the less bad option despite his own brutal acts, and might produce a more effective and coordinated fight in the air and on the ground.
Also read: Choice of McMaster likely to quell GOP hawks
12:33 U.S.' Tillerson calms allies on Syria ahead of Geneva talks16
17:40 Republican lawmakers peppered on Russia during town halls15
11:02 Will New National Security Adviser McMaster Clash with Donald Trump on Russia?23
16:09 US Defense Secretary Mattis: US will stay in Iraq a while14