Excerpted from Washington Examiner: President Obama couldn’t ask for a more awkward moment to be forced to travel to Russia and face President Vladimir Putin.
A top ally of Syrian leader Bashar Assad and the man who took in U.S. national security leaker Edward Snowden, Putin has spent the days leading up to the arrival late this week of Obama in St. Petersburg for the G20 summit of world leaders taunting Obama and ridiculing his call for Congress to approve a military strike in Syria.
Putin, in an interview published Wednesday morning, again questioned U.S. intelligence concluding that Assad is responsible for a chemical attack that killed more than 1,400 outside Damascus Aug. 21, saying it is seemed “completely ridiculous” and accusing the Obama administration of failing to provide sufficient proof.The Russian president, who Obama recently needled for acting like a “bored” schoolboy during their last one-on-one meeting, also argued that an attack without the authorization of the U.N. Security Council — authorization of which he has thwarted at every turn — would amount to a violation of international law and could be seen as nothing more than “an act of aggression” on the part of the United States.
“In our view, it seems completely ridiculous that the regular armed forces, who are actually on the attack and in some places have the so-called rebels surrounded and are finishing them off, that in these conditions” would use prohibited chemical weapons, Putin told the Associated Press, “understanding quite well that this could be a reason for sanctions on them, including the use of force. It’s just ridiculous. It does not fit into any logic.”
When asked if he would support military action against Syria if shown undeniable proof of the incident, Mr. Putin replied, “I do not exclude it.” He then once again warned against any action without U.N. Security Council authorization.
“I want to draw your attention to one absolutely fundamental fact,” he said. “In accordance with applicable international law, the authorization of the use of force against a sovereign state can only be given by the Security Council of the United Nations. Any other reasons, or methods, to justify the use of force against an independent and sovereign state are unacceptable and cannot be qualified as anything other than aggression.”