Putin Calls for Diplomacy on Syria in Times Op-Ed

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Vladimir Putin
Mikhail Klimentyev / AFP / Getty Images

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a Security Council meeting in Novo-Ogaryovo, outside Moscow, on Sept. 9, 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote an op-ed published in the New York Times Wednesday in which he calls for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria and warns that a U.S. strike will lead to “more innocent victims and escalation.”

Putin’s piece comes almost exactly 24 hours after American President Barack Obama said in a primetime address that he would “run to ground” a proposal that Syria surrender its chemical weapons to avoid a U.S. strike.

“The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction,” writes Putin. “Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.”

Putin also writes that “no one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria,” though he claims, “there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons.” The U.S. believes Syria’s government used chemical weapons against its own citizens. Additionally, Obama has argued the Syrian rebels do not “have the capability” to have carried out chemical attacks.

Putin ends his op-ed with a jab at the concept of American exceptionalism, as cited by Obama Tuesday night:

I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

Update 10:45 p.m.: Asked to respond to Putin’s op-ed, a senior White House official told CNN’s Jake Tapper that “Putin is now fully invested in Syria’s CW disarmament.”

[New York Times]