The U.S. Senate intends to propose to President Barack Obama to postpone the strike against Syria for 45 days to have an opportunity to realize Moscow's initiative on the transfer of Syrian chemical weapons under international supervision, the Kommersant newspaper said. Obama said yesterday in a televised address to the nation that he was going to wait for the results of diplomatic efforts before bombing the war-torn country.
White House speechwriters, the newspaper wrote, had to rewrite the speech of the American president just a few hours before the broadcast. According to sources, it was originally planned that Obama would explain to the American citizens, why the USA's military intervention in Syria's internal affairs was necessary. However, the president promised that Washington would look into the Russian initiative and continue consultations with Moscow on the subject. Barack Obama also said that he had asked the Congress to postpone the vote on the Syrian resolution.
After nearly two days of consultations, the Senate decided to ask the president to postpone the military operation for not more than 45 days. At the same time, the Congress is to vote for the resolution, which gives the president the right to use military force against Syria without any consultations with lawmakers. If during this period there is no progress reached on the part of Damascus, Obama will be able to order the launch of air strikes against Syria.
The foreign press, commenting on the Russian initiative on Syria and the statements from Barack Obama that followed it, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose policies had repeatedly raised concerns in the White House, suddenly overshadowed his American counterpart with his stance on the Syrian crisis.
Although the situation around Syria can still change, Putin seems to have reached his goals, mostly at the expense of Washington, writes The New York Times. First and foremost, he gave a lifeline to his long-standing ally - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the U.S. administration wants to step down for long.
In addition, Russia has initiated important measures in containing the conflict in Syria, the escalation of which can lead to widespread unrest in the Islamic world. Putin's willingness to discuss diplomatic ways of solving the Syrian problem has made Washington an important partner of Moscow.
Should Russia's diplomatic efforts be successful, it would be obvious that Moscow saved the budget of the United States from large-scale spending. After all, every missile that the U.S. planned to launch on Syria, is worth about 1.5 million dollars.
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel evaluated the war in Syria at tens of millions of dollars, but experts in the U.S. talk about two hundred million, and it goes about only air strikes. Providing a no-fly zone over Syria would require half a billion immediately and then a billion dollars each year.
Meanwhile, the Russian president started a debate with Obama in an article published in The New York Times. Putin stated that the planned military strike on Syria would lead to countless casualties, spark conflicts outside Syria, escalate violence and trigger a new wave of terrorism. Putin also warned that the U.S. military intervention would undermine all efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and lead to further destabilization in the region.
"It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States," Putin wrote. Millions of people around the world consider the USA the country that counts of rough military force only and quickly creates the coalition under the slogan "you're either with us or against us," Putin said.
The Russian president also criticized the idea of America's exceptionalism.
"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," Putin wrote in the article posted Wednesday on the website of The New York Times.
"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."
The Russian leader has been repeatedly criticized for persecution of the opposition, the adoption of controversial laws banning the adoption of Russian orphans by American families and prohibiting the propaganda of homosexuality among minors. Nowadays, Putin has taken the role of a statesman of international scale. The most important international goal for the Kremlin right now is finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict.
The Russian side will hold several meetings on this subject. Thus, the Syrian situation will be one of the most important topics of the talks between Vladimir Putin and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed Al Nahyan, ITAR -TASS reported. The talks will be conducted Thursday, September 12.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will conduct negotiations in Geneva on Thursday as well. They will discuss the Russian initiative on international control over chemical weapons in Syria.
According to Russia's plan, everything should go through several stages. At first, Syria joins the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), then Damascus declares the sites of storage and production of chemical weapons and then admits OPCW inspectors there.
In the fourth stage, the Syrian authorities will decide, together with inspectors, how the chemical weapons will be destroyed and by whom. The question of who will destroy the Syrian chemical weapons has not been resolved yet. It is possible that Russia and the U.S. could join their efforts in this direction within the framework of the updated Nunn-Lugar program, which provides for cooperation between Russia and the U.S. on the elimination of weapons of mass destruction of third countries.
Presumably, the talks between Lavrov and Kerry may last for several days. It is possible that the parties will meet until Saturday, September 14.