With the race for the White House picking up steam, American eyes are focused squarely on the presidential race and who will be elected Barack Obama’s successor. So, too, has the Kremlin’s focus sharpened. Moscow knows its window of opportunity is limited. Barring a series of unprecedented events, the next president is likely to take a tougher line both with Moscow and in defense of American interests in the Middle East. If Russia is to secure its newfound position of strength in the region, its leaders know it must act quickly to shape the status quo on the ground to its advantage.