Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at his meeting with elected region leaders in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. • AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service
In a rare move, Russian President Vladimir Putin took his case for caution in Syria directly to the American people, writing an op-ed in The New York Times.
In the piece - headlined "A Plea for Caution From Russia" - Putin warned that a potential strike by the United States in Syria could unleash a new wave of terrorism, increase violence and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa.
Noting that there are "few champions of democracy in Syria," Putin urged the United States to abide by the laws of the United Nations Security Council - and not rely on what he described as a "dangerous" sense of American exceptionalism.
"Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council," Putin wrote.
"Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression."
Enumerating a list of countries in which the United States has intervened militarily in the past - including Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq - Putin points out that "force has proved ineffective and pointless."
"In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes," he wrote.
"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,'" Putin added.
In the article posted Wednesday on the Times website, Putin repeats his contention that there is every reason to believe that Syrian rebels, not Bashar Assad's government, are responsible for the poison gas attack on a Damascus suburb last week.
The Russian leader says he supports the effort to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control.
Via The New York Times.