Russia is succeeding where the USA failed:
Labelled an international pariah only months ago by Boris Johnson, and warned he would be stuck in a Syrian quagmire by a patronising Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin ends 2016 if not as the undisputed victor, then at least as the man at the centre of decision making.
It is Moscow and not Washington that is calling the shots in the Middle East.
Reeling from its cold war defeat and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet empire, Moscow was unable to save Yugoslavia from what it termed western aggression.
But in the case of Syria, it can claim it has recovered its self-respect. In the process, it has built a brutal reputation for sticking by its friends, understanding the dynamics of the region better than America, and knowing how to use military power to forge diplomatic alliances.
The US, by contrast, ends 2016 out in the cold, holding a postmortem into the failure of its peace drive with Israel.
That’s the difference a leader who puts interests of his nation first versus one who wants to transform his nation into something it is not can make.