What will be the final toll for Russian salvation of the Syrian crisis?

September 10, 2013

Putin is working the Administration like a fish on a line.   This morning, Secretary Kerry tried to get in front of the story by claiming that the US had been involved in the Russian proposal (for Syria to surrender her chemical arsenal) from the start.  Next, like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, the Russians have backed away from the proposal, at least in some important particulars.  That Russian proposal could be a lifeline for an administration that has thoroughly misplayed the situation, and Putin is not going to fully extend it until he gets what he is really after.  This all raises the question “What does Vladimir really want?”

The Wall Street Journal reports that last year the Obama Administration considered several offers to the Russians in exchange for their support on Syria policy – end of NATO expansion, cessation of missile defense plans for Europe – before rejected them as too dear a price to pay.  Today, I am sure they both will be on Putin’s list, as well as a complete US exit from Central Asia and the Caucasus (i.e. abandoning allies Georgia and Azerbaijan) and US pressure on the European Union to abandon their trade deal with Ukraine (firmly returning Ukraine to the Russian sphere of influence is a major foreign policy goal).  I would not be surprised if Putin tries to get Obama to issue onerous federal regulations on fracking, which would boost the value of Gazprom and the effectiveness of Russia’s gas energy weapon in cajoling her European neighbors.

That takes us to the real question – not what Putin wants, but what is Obama willing to surrender in order to save face?

Hook. line and sinker


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