President Vladimir Putin has said in a New Year's message to South African President Jacob Zuma that Moscow is looking for strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries as well cooperating within the format of BRICS in implementing the final decisions adopted at the BRICS summit in Ufa.

There has been much to-do in recent months and years about what have appeared to many to be Vladimir Putin’s bold, aggressive moves in the Ukraine and Syria. Some have attributed strategic insight and effectiveness to Putin, and some have deplored what they consider to be weak, ineffective responses by the leaders of the United States and Europe.

Ever since the establishment of the modern Greek State, Greece has formed strong, mainly psychological, ties with Russia. Indeed, it was the Russian support to the Greek National Revolution of 1821, that set in alarm the other Great European Powers of the time, internationalized the greek demand for liberty and paved the way for action to be taken to help the Greeks. The endgame of the help that was offered to Greeks was to prevent Russia from gaining access to the Mediterranean, a fact that would have changed the international balance of power in its favor.

America has made little progress in Iraq and Syria, something Russia is determined to change apparently.

The world buzzes with headlines of Vladimir Putin and Russian action and reaction to world events. On the surface it seems virtually all Russian foreign policy responsibility is vested in Mr. Putin alone.

Most of the world raised a curious eyebrow when news broke of a Russian military jet being knocked from the sky by Turkey, resulting in the murder of the Russian pilot and rescue of the fighter’s navigator.

There is no shortage of security threats to the NATO alliance: a resurgent and militarily active Russia; the territorial and global jihadist threat of DAESH; and the movements of over 4 million refugees.

A Russian aircraft, a Sukhoi-24, which NATO calls Fencer, the low-flying tactical bomber - an aircraft considered better than our Tornado - was shot down north of Latakia by a Turkish F-16. The Russian aircraft was flying at an altitude of 6,000 meters.

Strengthening of Russia-Iran alliance in Syria can lead to strengthening positions of Tehran in the Middle East and disruption of situation in several Gulf States.

The past month has seen increasing tensions between Washington and Moscow over the Syria-Assad-DAESH nexus of seemingly perpetual conflict. This tension has not been mitigated by the sometimes-substantive but always-political interventions in the region.

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