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Russia’s recent attack on Syrian territory, using cruise missiles fired from the Caspian Sea, led to a fair amount of chuckling in the West, after U.S. reports that four of the missiles crashed in Iran. But this is no laughing matter. Arguing over the attack’s effectiveness misses the point.

If Moscow had only wanted to hit Bashar Assad’s enemies in Syria, it has plenty of ships nearby in the Mediterranean to do the job. Rather, the Russians launched the 26 missiles from the Caspian simply to show they were capable of doing so. The United States and its allies should be warned: Russian President Vladimir Putin notched another success.

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