In NY Times Plea, Putin Cautions U.S. Public Against Syria Strike

Russia is 'not protecting the Syrian government, but international laws,' President Vladimir Putin writes in New York Times op-ed; On Obama speech: 'It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional.'

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Russian President Vladimir Putin published an op-ed in the New York Times on Monday appealing directly to the American public for "dialogue" and international "cooperation" on Syria and criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for calling the United States exceptional.

As world powers continue their diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis over Syria's chemical weapons, Putin warned a potential U.S. strike would "result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders."

Putin wrote that in opposing military action against the regime of Bashar Assad in the UN Russia is "not protecting the Syrian government, but international law."

"[A strike] could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa," he wrote. "It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance."

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The United States and Russia, despite recent tensions, are bound together as one-time allies who "defeated the Nazis together" and as founders of the United Nations after the Second World War, he wrote. The "wisdom" that "decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus … has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades," he wrote.

Though Russia is spearheading efforts to place Syria's large cache of chemical weapons under international control, Putin wrote in the New York Times, it was the rebels and not the government who were behind the deadly August 21 attack that left more 1,400 Syrians dead. They unleashed the nerve gas to "provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patron."

He warned of reports militants are now planning a chemical attack on Israel and said such reports "cannot be ignored."

Putin warned the American public of the faltering reputation their country enjoys in the world and said it is "alarming" U.S. military intervention has become "commonplace."

"Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan 'you’re either with us or against us,'" he wrote.

Putin criticized U.S. President Barack Obama's speech on Syria. He said he disagreed with calling the United States "different" and "exceptional."

"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," he wrote. "We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."

"If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust," he wrote. "It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues."

Hard talk: Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin could have brought on another world war. Credit: AP

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