For John, BLUF: President Putin seems to think he is free to do as powerful men do, but it turns out he may have been reading too many US Democratic Party press releases. Nothing to see here; just move along.
From the article:
Part of Haley's message was an American threat to counter Russia where its forces and foreign policy were most over-extended: in Syria. “Sixteen days ago, we came to an agreement. Russia cast its vote in favor of the agreement. And with that vote, Russia promised its support for a 30-day ceasefire, as did the rest of the members of the Security Council…During the negotiations, the United States put all parties on notice that we needed to act if the ceasefire was not honored, and members of the Security Council agreed. And now that day has come. The ceasefire has failed. The situation of the civilians in eastern Ghouta is dire. And the United States is acting. We have drafted a new ceasefire resolution that provides no room for evasion. It is simple, straightforward, and binding. It will take effect immediately upon adoption by this Council.”This is from The Belmont Club,♠ via PJ Media, by Mr Richard Fernandez, 14 MARCH 2018.
It's a deadline with about fourteen days -- thirty minus sixteen -- to run.
Here is the meat of the issue:
The Red Line shoe is now on the other foot. By issuing a warning against infringing his freedom of action Putin has drawn a Red Line and Haley just threatened to cross it in the most public possible way. Radio Free Europe writes “the United States has said it is ready to act in Syria to end chemical attacks and “inhuman suffering” if Russia, Iran, and Syria continue to allegedly ignore a 30-day cease-fire approved by the United Nations, prompting a warning from Moscow that it will strike back if the lives of its servicemen are threatened”.We are looking at the United States Ambassador to the United Nations♥ drawing a line in the sand, with Russia, Syria and Iran on the other side. Now the winds of the desert could obscure that line, but with the First Round of the Russian Presidential Election scheduled for this Sunday, 18 March 2018, it could impact how the voters react. And it could impact how the Candidates react.
What Russia will do when the clock counts down remains to be seen. The US threat is both asymmetric and strategically calculating. The US has power dominance over Russia in Syria. In almost any scenario except the use of nuclear weapons or nerve gas, Russia is likely to be badly worsted in Syria. Striking at Assad and Iran will be supported by Saudi Arabia and Israel.
It is dangerous but also profoundly psychological. Vladimir Putin has now been threatened twice by women, Theresa May and Nikki Haley, even as [he] stands for election as the Macho Man. The Kremlin strongman can hardly back down now without immense loss of face, which is perhaps the point. Putin is in a tight spot. He can either eat crow or roll the dice. His first reaction in past situations has been not to yield but double down. This will make the next two weeks extraordinarily dangerous. It’s a big data point. The administration has taken the risk.
As an historic side note, poison gas is classified as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD). And, it is classified as a WMD because the Old Soviet Union (now Russia) pushed the idea to include chemical and biological weapons along with nuclear weapons as weapons of mass destruction.♦
The comment from Blogger Glenn Harlan Reynolds is "Wait, I thought Trump was Putin’s puppet."
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.
Regards — Cliff
♠ As in Belmont, Massachusetts.
♥ And my pick for GOP Presidential Candidate in 2024.
♦ I wonder if they now regret that move from the 1980s.