Russia's attack helicopters: Did Putin outfox the U.S. in Syria?

The Week's Editorial Staff
The Week

America accuses Moscow of providing Syria with deadly weaponry, and critics say the U.S. was foolish to believe Russia would ever turn on Assad

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton accused Russia of sending attack helicopters to Syria, warning that the sophisticated weapons could dramatically escalate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's lethal crackdown on a 15-month-old uprising. Russia insists that it isn't providing Assad with military aid to use against rebels, and that it stands behind Kofi Annan's crumbling peace plan. But has Russia simply hoodwinked the U.S. and the rest of the international community into thinking it might cut Assad loose while it really focuses on helping its Middle East ally crush the opposition?

Moscow outmaneuvered Obama: President Obama's foreign policy team is stomping its feet because Russia "outfoxed" them, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. Until just days ago, they were "banking on getting Russia's help to oust Assad." But Moscow has hundreds of advisers in Syria refurbishing a Russian naval base there, so it's pretty clear whose side they're really on. The Obama administration must be "totally out to lunch."
"Obama outfoxed by Putin"

SEE MORE: Could Syria's WMDs fall into terrorists' hands?

But the U.S. is trying to hold Russia accountable: "Vladimir Putin has no shame," says The New York Times in an editorial. It's not enough that he's using his veto to keep the U.N. Security Council from punishing Assad — he's also actively helping the dictator "kill his own people more efficiently and in even larger quantities." Putin has clearly "crossed a line," and Clinton was right to call him out. Now Putin at least knows that the world is watching.
"Russia, Soviet style"

Eithe way, the bloodshed is about to get worse: Even if it turns out that Russia isn't, in fact, sending deadly weapons to Assad, says Josh Voorhees at Slate, Clinton's willingness to go out on a limb with her public accusation "is further confirmation that Washington has been unable to convince Moscow to sign on to an international effort to bring an end to the conflict." And as long as Russia refuses to help, it's a sure bet that the Syrian people's suffering will only get worse.
"Clinton: Russia sending Syria attack helicopters"

SEE MORE: Is Russia abandoning Syria's Assad?

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