August 28, 2013
Russian police seized a painting of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev in women’s underwear from a gallery in St Petersburg.
Mr. Putin’s public reticence, though, reflects a calculation that Russia can do little to stop a military intervention if the United States and other countries move ahead without the authorization of the United Nations Security Council – and that he has little to lose at home, at least, if they do.
While American and European leaders have cited what they call mounting evidence of the use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces, Russian officials continue to warn against a rush to judgment so precipitous that it can only be seen a pretext for what they call the real motive: the overthrow of Mr. Assad.
Russia has made its opposition to military intervention in Syria vehemently clear. The foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, warns daily about the risk of an escalating conflagration. A deputy prime minister said the West dealt with the Islamic world like “a monkey with a grenade.” A few commentators on the fringe have warned of World War III.
The one voice that has remained silent, though, is the one that matters most.
President Vladimir V. Putin has conspicuously avoided public comment on reports of a chemical weapons attack on civilians outside of Damascus, the Syrian capital.