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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, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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