In March, just a month after anti-government protesters in Kiev, Ukraine, toppled President Viktor Yanukovych, Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region. The move prompted sanctions from the United States and its Western allies, but Putin clearly was unlikely to back down. In Syria, after the government of President Bashar al-Assad allegedly used chemical weapons against civilians, U.S. President Barack Obama in September seemed poised to attack military targets in the war-torn nation. But at the last minute, under pressure from Russia and the United States, Assad agreed to dismantle his chemical arsenal, and the threat of U.S. military action receded. In another apparent diplomatic victory, negotiators convinced Iran to temporarily freeze its nuclear enrichment program in exchange for loosened economic sanctions. The deal strained U.S.-Israeli relations, however, casting a shadow over a new round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. In Egypt, the military ousted the country’s first democratically elected president. The move earned only a mild rebuke from the United States and a partial cutoff of U.S. military aid, raising questions about America’s commitment to Egypt’s fledgling democracy.

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