30 October, 2020

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A Plea For Caution From Russia

By Vladimir V. Putin

Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.

Vladimir V. Putin

The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.

The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.

Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.

Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.

From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.

No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But 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, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”

But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.

No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.

The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.

We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.

A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. 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. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.

I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.

If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And 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.

*Vladimir V. Putin is the president of Russia. A version of this article appears in print on September 12, 2013, on page A31 of the New York edition.

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Latest comments

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    It looks like Putin has captured the high moral ground. Damn these Russians, if only they didn’t play so much Chess.

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      Shssh! Look closer XANTHIC POWER and the EPICANTHIC FOLD RULE!!

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        Ha Ha good point! Plenty of that in Eastern Russia.

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      Taraki,

      Putin is behaving like a Statesman, not a thug.

      Here is another perspective of today’s Arabs by two Arabs today.

      About Arabs today.

      MEMRI: Arabs in their own words

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkgAQcSpypo

      Here, is how Arabs WERE 1000 years ago, before the Mullahs, Ulama showed their hegemony and elevated Revelation above Investigation and Reason.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oxTMUTOz0w&list=PL366C37FFC2760B08

      Uploaded on Sep 3, 2010
      Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist and Director of the Hayden Planetarium, discusses how Islamic fundamentalist destroyed the enlightenment era of the Middle East and why we should be concerned today.

      JeJa Vu.

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    I think, It is good Putin took some Stand there. That would cut down the mayhem of Syrian people.

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    “But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together.”
    Very true – 19 million Russians gave their lives therefore we speak English today.
    No western nation has defeated Russia only the Mongolians Genghis Khan ruled for around 400 years. Look at Mr Putin’s face and see how he rides that horse. Obumer is no match in PR on this one or the US while Mr Putin with the fastest launching pad in the world rules.

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    Although Russia’s support to Syria, despite Assad using poison gas on his own civilians, is more to protect the lucrative Russian arms trade business with Syria, it will be good to see Putin play a more active role in world affairs. There is absolutely no reason why the USA should lead the world in all matters political. In the present case the USA should have waited until the Reports of the experts had come in – before considering a military strike. From that angle Putin and Russia seem to have served the cause of peace this time around. Of course, the longer you wait this deceitful Assad and his men will not hesitate to hide some stock piles of the WMD chemicals in the vast country – for use later. It is learnt these chemical weapons are actually those Saddam Hussein was accumulating to unleash later. They are said to have been smuggled into neighbouring Syria when Iraq
    was invaded by the Coalition forces.

    Senguttuvan

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    Mr. Vladimir V. Putin,

    “Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies”

    The Russians and the Pope, are the good people- God’s People.

    The Americans, the British and the French are the Bad People-, the Devil’s, the Satan’s people.

    So, in the security council there are three Devils and two non-Devils.

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    Yeah, chess playing at it’s smartest.

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      Assad: So Vladimir, am I allowed to slaughter people with ordinary weapons?

      Putin: Sure Bashar, of course you can.

      Assad: I’ll expect the next consignment from Moscow then.

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    At last we have a Leader who can stand up to bullies in the top end of town , who never leave small Nations alone, if these countries are not to their liking.

    Hope Cameron , Harper and Ms Pillai got a chace to read this .

    Boy…Wasn’t the “Establishment” peeved off that the NYT put Putin in the front page.

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      Sumanasekera et al Avatars,

      “At last we have a Leader who can stand up to bullies in the top end of town , who never leave small Nations alone, if these countries are not to their liking.”

      Yes. Putin is a true Leader. That is why Russia needs to be in the Security council foe checks and balances. He is preventing Syria to be turned into a Wahhabi State, funded by the Saudi-Wahhabi Axis with the concurrence of the Western Imperialists.

      The last time the Russians slept, we had the Korean War.

      Next time, they fixed the Suez Canal Crisis, Adventure of French , British and their Israeli stooges.

      Back to Sri Lanka.

      We have Mahinda Rajapaksa, a non-leader, a coward, who is afraid of BBS, Sinhala Ravya and other terrorist Monks running Amok in the country, with no-law and order and committing crimes, in the name of Buddhism, the Tipitaka and the Triple Gem.

      What a farce. Call the terrorist Monks running Amok, the 3rd Gem of Buddhism. We might ad well LTTE the 3rd Gem.

      The Monks, the “Sangha”, call themselves “Sangha Ratnaya” Monk Gems.

      This is what the Sri Lanka Sinbhala Buddhist Laymen fools, called Upasakayas and Upasaka Ammas follow and believe.

      Nobody, yes nobody has ever reached Nirvana, Nibbana, Rebirth, Samsara, Hell or Heaven despite over 3,000 years of chanting and preaching. Why?

      It is all about, Monk, Priest and Mullah Hegemony.

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    A very carefully crafted address. Unprecedented, in that this the first time that a Head of a State has addressed another nation. Putin is desperately trying to cover his steps in helping Azad to build up an arsenal of chemical weapons. On the other hand, the US in recent times had exceeded its mandate in the manner it acted in relation to Libya. Further at home Putin has to contend with and contain the militant Muslim elements in Chechiniya. Benson

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    ” …when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal…” says the ex-KGP spymaster Putin in obvious sincerity. So we have come a long way since Lenin reminded us that “religion is the opium of the masses” is what those atheistic hordes throughout the world may take note of. Reading Tolstoy and other literary giants of pre-1915 Russia one gets the impression Russians are, by nature, as religious as any other society. The post-1990s has brought back the Russians in their numbers to their churches.

    Senguttuvan

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    Very devious. Very clever. But at least it holds the Americans in checkmate for awhile!

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    United States must think twice.Al Quida and USA supporters fighting against the Syrian government. What is the meaning o this?

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      “what is the meaning of this?” – AlCIAd in operation blistering.

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    VP = Velupillai Prabakaran = Vladimir Putin

    Why he has to get involved when Muslims kill Muslims?

    Let them decide their own affairs. This is a Shia Sunni ideological war.

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      [Edited out]

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