Russian President Vladimir Putin is in the brokerage business. The deal on northern Syria that he hammered out with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday serves as a perfect advertisement for the service Putin is offering authoritarians around the world, but primarily in the Middle East and Africa.

Ever since Putin intervened on President Bashar Assad's behalf in 2015, he has used the Syrian conflict as the shop window for the new international role he sees for Russia. Based on Russia's behavior in Syria, a situation that defies the very idea of long-term alliances and adversarial relationships, these principles are:

Incumbents should hold on to power. No regime change from the outside. Every party with a legitimate interest should get something. There are no permanent red lines. Russia will work with anyone who wants to work with Russia. Russia will only get involved when it can get something out of the situation. Russia won't get involved when threatened with overwhelming force or heavy losses.