Writing in the Moscow Times, Alexander Golts echoes the thoughts of numerous Russian pundits in claiming that Russia scored a “brilliant diplomatic victory” in Syria over chemical weapons in recent days. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What actually happened is that the world saw Russia show palpable terror at the prospect of U.S. bombing of Syria to destroy chemical weapons. Instead of standing up to the U.S. on behalf of its ally, Syria, which Russia insisted had not used any chemical weapons, Russia sold Syria out. Putin rapidly agreed to help strip its ally of a formidable part of its military arsenal and to subject it to the indignity of international inspections. Let’s not forget that this is the same road traveled by Iraq, a road which ultimately led to the country being obliterated and the ruler killed.
Russia has shown it has neither the diplomatic nor the military assets to stand up to American power. It has shown it is not willing to go to the wall for any ally when confronted by credible threats of American power. It has shown that American will get its way whenever such issues arise. Any remaining Russian ally can only be appalled.
This crackdown on chemical weapons is just one step on the road to ultimately unseating the Syrian dictatorship. What will Russia say when the U.S. demands that Syria liquidate other weapons systems, and cease support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah? The answer is obvious.
Meanwhile, if Russia is unable to satisfy the U.S. that it can purge Syria of chemical weapons, as seems likely based on Mr. Golts’s analysis, then Russia will face double humiliation. First the world will see that Russia could not deliver on its promise to purge Syria of WMD, and then it will see yet another Russian ally tumble into rubble under American guns.