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Putin Relishes Role as Syria Peacemaker

Published: September 13, 2013 (Issue # 1777)



  • Putin's op-ed has taken Russia-watchers and critics by surprise with many agreeing that he has won this round between himself and Obama.
    Photo: g20.org

Vladimir Putin, peacemaker.

Such a title would have seemed almost unimaginable even a few weeks ago for a man who rose to power in part by waging a bloody war in Chechnya, where he vowed to "rub [the rebels] out in the outhouse."

But with his foreign minister pushing a diplomatic solution to the problem of chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria in order to avoid a military strike by the U.S., and with Putin throwing his political weight behind the plan, the Russian president is suddenly being lauded for his ambassadorial prowess.

In an op-ed published Thursday on the pages of The New York Times addressed to "the American people and their political leaders," Putin defended his strict opposition to military intervention in Syria, calling instead for renewed efforts to bring the conflicting sides in the civil war to the negotiating table.

"From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future," Putin wrote. "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 success of Putin's campaign against a U.S. military strike is not guaranteed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was set to meet with his U.S counterpart John Kerry in Geneva on Thursday and Friday to see if they could begin nailing down a plan that would allow for Syria's chemical weapons to come under international control and later be destroyed.

But some analysts have already called this the pinnacle of Putin's time at the helm of the Russian state. In addition to appearing in The New York Times, Putin was the focus of a cover story in iconic Time magazine for a second time this month. U.S. congressman Brad Sherman told reporters this week that the Syria plan "was the best thing to come out of Russia since vodka."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Oct. 30


Dental-Expo St. Petersburg 2014 concludes today at Lenexpo. Welcoming specialists from throughout the federation, the forum is an opportunity for dentists to share tricks of the trade and peruse the most recent innovations in technology and equipment, with over 100 companies hocking their wares at the event.



Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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