The comparison of statecraft between Russia and the United States is unflattering. Russia has vastly fewer cards to play, but because Putin has grounded his policy in an assessment the realities of power, has limited his objectives to those within Russia’s means and related those to a larger diplomatic context that would appeal to other powers, he has played those cards well. Moreover, Putin has positioned Russia to be an indispensable party in a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria at very little cost, as Secretary Clinton herself has admitted and capped it off with a naval show of force in the eastern Mediterranean.
We play at tactical geopolitics while the Russians do strategy.
It appears Damascus will fall soon to the insurgents, with unpredictable results for the region. The US has basically dealt itself out of having much say in what happens. Much of the problem with US foreign policy (if you can even call it ‘policy’ as it changes so much) is that we think a long-term view is six months whereas for Russia it is six years and for China, six decades.