Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad has put it at odds with other countries in the Arab world.
Russia drew a lot of flack from Arab countries and the West when it vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at pressuring Assad to stop his crackdown on protesters. That has some analysts in Russia doubting whether the Kremlin really has a cogent strategy for the Middle East.
The dilemma for Russia policy in the Arab world can be illustrated by two very different events that took place this week.
We're going to look now at American military strategy for the war in Afghanistan. There's been some confusion lately about whether American forces would end their combat mission sooner than planned and also about how long the U.S. will remain in Afghanistan. So to try to make sense of it all, we're joined by NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman.
And that settlement is, of course, a priority for President Obama. But so is the debt crisis in Europe. Today, he hosts Italy's new prime minister, the technocrat who succeeded the controversial-but-flamboyant Silvio Berlusconi last fall. Mario Monti has not yet turned around Italy's economy, but as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, he's changed the government's image abroad.
Rick Santorum headed in a different direction after his wins on Tuesday.
Here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn in Dallas.
WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: North Texas was a good choice for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum to keep his campaign's momentum going. He met with evangelical pastors in the morning, Tea Partiers in the afternoon and a Republican women's group at night.
(SOUNDBITE OF MEETING)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It is our pleasure to introduce to you Rick Santorum. Give him a Texas welcome.
The big Swiss bank UBS awarded some of its investment bankers millions of dollars in bonuses for their work last year. Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, it's taking some of that money back.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Or clawing it back. That's our last word in business today. Claw back provisions implemented after the financial crisis allow banks to recover bonuses from employees. A trading scandal last year cost UBS more than $2 billion and pushed it into the red.
Chuck Taylor All Stars are common on the streets of Shanghai. Xuan Zhihui, 62, a retiree from a state-owned factory, wears her daughter's hand-me-down sneakers, which are 15 years old. She says they're really comfortable.
My Tee in Shanghai carries loads of limited edition Chuck Taylors from cities in Japan and New York. Owner Kenny Lee considers some of them museum pieces and has refused to sell them despite offers of up to $3,000.
Stroll along a street in downtown Shanghai for very long, and you're likely to run into someone wearing Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. One recent afternoon, Xu Jing was heading back from lunch to her job at an ad company in a pair of raspberry-colored Chuck Taylors.
"They have a young image, upbeat and outdoorsy, sporty," said Xu, 27, explaining the appeal. "Young people with an artistic sense prefer Converse."
Xu was accompanied by Chen Xiaolei, a co-worker who owns three pairs of Chuck Taylor high-tops.
Labor unions plan to rally in front of the Arizona State Capitol on Thursday afternoon to protest four bills quickly moving through the state Legislature that could make last year's Wisconsin labor laws look modest by comparison.
Three of the four bills restrict the way unions collect dues and the way workers get paid for union activities. The fourth bans collective bargaining between governments and government workers: state and local. Unlike Wisconsin, it affects all government employees, including police and firefighters.
Members of the Egyptian military stand guard as officials raid the offices of a nongovernmental organization in Cairo. Egyptian investigating judges referred international NGO workers to trial for allegedly being involved in banned activities and illegally receiving foreign funds, security officials said.
Credit Courtesy of the National Democratic Institute
A voter checks a sample ballot outside a polling station during the second round of municipal elections in Egypt. The National Democratic Institute says it has helped mobilize volunteers and make parties aware of citizens' needs in Egypt without promoting a particular ideology.
American lawmakers are furious about a mounting diplomatic crisis in Egypt, where dozens of nongovernmental workers, including 19 Americans, could face trial.
The United States says Egypt needs to let pro-democracy groups continue their work to help the country's transition, but Egypt accuses them of operating illegally.
The work of democracy promotion groups has raised suspicions in many countries, but Lorne Craner, who runs the International Republican Institute, says he has never seen anything like what's going on now in Egypt.