Russia has reportedly sent military reinforcements to aid Syria’s crackdown on opposition forces, ending any pretense of neutrality in the country’s conflict.
The U.S. State Department claims it wasn’t aware of this breaking development. Because the United States will not risk a military showdown with Russia, the move is likely to limit any serious Western response to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s campaign of terror against his own citizens. Russia has also been blocking efforts at the U.N.
A Russian military unit has arrived in Syria, according to Russian news reports, a development that a United Nations Security Council source told ABC News was “a bomb” certain to have serious repercussions.
Russia, one of President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest allies despite international condemnation of the government’s violent crackdown on the country’s uprising, has repeatedly blocked the United Nations Security Council’s attempts to halt the violence, accusing the U.S. and its allies of trying to start another war.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the U.S. government had not heard of the reports of Russian troops in Syria and declined to comment.
A week ago, John McCain called Obama’s lack of response to events on the ground in Syria “disgraceful and shameful.” Presumably, McCain wanted an air or ground effort to protect Syrians reportedly being massacred. Obama was still defending his position last Wednesday, saying it would be premature to intervene and that the US should not act alone. Evidently, Putin didn’t have the same concerns.
President Obama on Wednesday defended his administration’s decision not to authorize military intervention in Syria, despite the “natural instinct” to take action to halt the brutal crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad’s government. After a private meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the White House, Obama reiterated his demand for Assad to relinquish power immediately. But the president cautioned that the United States must think through “all of our actions” before taking more aggressive steps to intervene.