Putin scores some wins but tensions with the West mount

FILE In this file photo taken on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia. Putin may look like a winner after an abrupt U.S. decision to pull out of Syria, but the Russian leader faces massive challenges in Syria and elsewhere, and he hasn’t moved an inch closer to the lifting of Western sanctions that have emaciated the national economy. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

FILE In this file photo taken on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, holds binoculars while watching a military exercises on training ground “Telemba”, about 80 kilometers (50 miles ) north of the city of Chita during the military exercises Vostok 2018 in Eastern Siberia, Russia . Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is on the left. U.S. and European sanctions have restricted Russia’s access to international capital markets, limited imports of Western energy and military technologies and spooked international investors. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

Journalists watch as Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Manezh in Moscow, Russia, on March 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW — It’s been a mixed year for Russian President Vladimir Putin.