PUTIN GREETS OBAMA WITH SYRIA THREAT – President Obama arrived in Russia today to find the already failing relations with his host in even worse condition. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to provide his Syrian allies with a missile shield in the event of U.S. airstrikes further complicates Obama’s flagging effort to win international support for an attack on Damascus. As the Guardian reports, Putin’s warning that an attack without UN backing would provoke military aid from Russia may drive away the handful of international partners for Obama’s proposed attack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that the main combat unit of the Syrian rebels is part of Al Qaeda adds a further chill to U.S.-Russia relations. Putin said Secretary of State John Kerry “lies openly” about Al Qaeda’s role among U.S.-backed rebels in Syria. Putin’s comments came after Kerry’s testy exchange with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., over the role of terrorist groups in the rebellion. Kerry claimed that Al Qaeda-allied groups were a small fraction of the force. State Department officials dismissed Putin’s charge.