Look who’s feeling confident: Syrian President Bashar al Assad, who made a surprise visit to Moscow to see Vladimir Putin yesterday. It was Assad’s first trip outside Syria since civil war broke out in 2011.

The Kremlin announced today that Assad and Putin discussed in their meeting how Russia might aid the ongoing fight against terrorism in Syria. Putin also expressed during the meeting that Russia would help the embattled leader reach a political settlement in the civil war, which has raged on for over four years. (The U.S. does not want Assad, who has been accused of using chlorine gas on his own civilians, to have any significant role in a political transition.)

According to the Kremlin, Putin told Assad:

Despite the dramatic situation in your country, you have responded to our request and come here to Russia, and we thank you for this. We are ready to make our contribution not only to the military operations and the fight against terrorism, but also to the political process.

This support, The New York Times notes, has given Assad “a new political lease on life”:

Mr. Assad has not made any public visits abroad since the uprising began in March 2011, with diplomats long speculating that, if he left, those around him might overthrow him. But the new Russian support, including this high-profile meeting in Moscow, has clearly given him extra clout and a new political lease on life.

He has now safely returned to Damascus.

Photo via AP.