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Russia Analyst: Russia wouldn’t resist intervention in Syria

July 9th, 2012
05:23 PM ET

By Lucky Gold

The violence in Syria continues unabated and with it the international outrage and calls for President Bashar Assad to step down.  So far, Russia, Syria’s chief ally along with China, has stood by the Assad regime.

But that could be changing.

In a startlingly frank interview Monday on Amanpour, Dimitri Simes, the Russian-born President of the Center for the National Interest, a Washington-based think tank with close connections to the Russian government and Russian foreign policy experts, responded to this question from Christiane Amanpour:

“Do you mean if the U.S. decided to gather its own coalition and do for instance what it did in Kosovo, do an end run around Russia, that Russia would not resist?”

“Since you asked,” said Simes, “We recently heard a top level Russian delegation….It included Russian officials being there in an official capacity…and this question was raised, and the answer was very clear:  Russia would not welcome such an intervention, Russia would not approve such an intervention.”

Then, came the bombshell:  “It would not resist such an intervention, and this intervention would not become a major issue in the U.S.-Russian relationship.”

Responded Ms. Amanpour:  “Well, that’s a bit of a green light in my book.”

The last thing you want is to put him in a corner

Simes did not contradict her, but did suggest that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent statements, such as suggesting that Russia “get off the sidelines,” were counterproductive:  “I think it’s quite unhelpful.  Because Russia is trying to meet the U.S. halfway behind the scene.”

Underscoring that warning was this fascinating insight into the Russian leader’s psyche:  “If you understand Putin’s psychology, the last thing you want to do is to put him publicly in the corner if you want his cooperation.”

Calling Clinton’s remarks “megaphone diplomacy,” Simes felt they were largely for “domestic consumption” in an election year.  Apologizing for being cynical, he added, “It suggests to me that the Obama administration does not want to interfere in Syria and wants to use Russia as an alibi.”

Russia should be treated as a full scale partner

If Russia’s support for Assad is far from unwavering, why does President Putin continue to support him?  Simes said the answer is in many ways a matter of respect.

“They do feel that this is another American-led humanitarian intervention.  That their (the Russians’) perspective is not sufficiently taken into account.  That American clients are usually protected; Russian clients are usually punished.”

A prime example of this double standard, he said, was the U.S. led intervention in Libya:  “They also feel that in the case of Libya they kind of met the United States half way.  But as a result, there was a full scale air war against Gadhafi.  That was not something they expected.  That was not something they believed they were told would happen by President Obama.”

“That was a result of a personal phone conversation between President Obama and President Medvedev, the call initiated apparently by President Obama.  And Medvedev was severely criticized later, including by Putin, for a kind of giving up to Obama and allowing the NATO military intervention in Libya.”

In other words, the Russians have no intention of “giving up” again.  “I think it is a sense that Russia is a great power and if they (the U.S.) want Russia to be involved in something so controversial as a Syrian military intervention, Russia should be treated as a full scale partner.  Otherwise, Russia would not resist but Russia would not help, either.”

Again, Simes questioned Russia’s support for Assad:  “They are not supplying him with new weapons.  They stated publicly that they would not use force on his behalf.  And apparently they told privately both the U.S. government, and more important the Assad inner circle, that they are not committed to Assad personally.”

Finally, Simes spoke of Putin the realist:  “He doesn’t want to be the only guy supporting this failing tyrant.  I think he is supporting him but up to a point.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. borher

    Who is that anal-ist who knows so much about Putin and is still alive to spit it around specially to the enemies of Russia!!!!!

    July 10, 2012 at 1:13 am | Reply
  2. gamersliverfang

    Another fine example of CNN one sided agenda of siding withe the opposition and claiming that Russia wouldn’t oppose an intervention in Syria?

    (President of the Center for the National Interest, a Washington-based think tank with close connections to the Russian government and Russian foreign policy experts, )

    Yeah isnt that the same think tank that stated everything will be fine in Egypt? this article and the interview cleary shows CNN true attention and agenda for all and everyone to see.

    Maybe thats why you CNN are losing all of your viewers and i take this why Amanpour came to CNN as an propagandist?

    This is what is wrong with the interview.

    (“They are not supplying him with new weapons. They stated publicly that they would not use force on his behalf. And apparently they told privately both the U.S. government, and more important the Assad inner circle, that they are not committed to Assad personally.”)

    Simes If Putin or Russia aren't committed to Syria,Assad then please explain why does and why did Russia install a Naval base in Syria back in 2009?

    From the way i am seeing it these protests are clearly aimed at Russia and its strategical base and the only the strategical key base in the whole region?

    Why has Dimitri Simes completely missed the talking on about the Russian Naval base?
    And this is the other problem i had with this article.

    (Finally, Simes spoke of Putin the realist: “He doesn’t want to be the only guy supporting this failing tyrant. I think he is supporting him but up to a point.”)

    Falling tyrant? you have been saying that for the last 12 months ago, assad a falling tyrant, but i think people are starting realize what you CNN is trying to do here.
    And also CNN how come you avoided the news story over the killings of protesters in Saudi Arabia? is CNN influenced by the Saudis?

    July 10, 2012 at 2:04 am | Reply
  3. gamersliverfang

    By the way CNN care to explain why the Free Syrian Army started using child soldiers?

    July 10, 2012 at 2:05 am | Reply

    I guess this means Russia would not resist intervention:
    Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized the West for clinging to its influence in the Arab world under the guise of “humanitarian operations.” He dubbed western involvement in Arab affairs as the export of “rocket and bomb democracy.”

    At a meeting with top Russian diplomats Putin said that certain countries will do anything to retain the influence they have become accustomed to in the Arab world.

    He stressed that western nations often adopt a one-sided policy in Arab affairs that violates international law.

    “We must do everything in our power to coerce the opposing forces in the Syrian conflict into coming to a peaceful solution,” underlined the Russian President.

    July 10, 2012 at 3:53 am | Reply
  5. ABC

    CNN has got to change their policies and adapt to the fact that not everything is going to go the way the USA/ Europe want, much news and happenings in Syria have been covered and certain parties silenced within the international forum, in order to portray a specific image.

    No one truely knows what is to happen in the coming weeks, however one thing is for sure the Russian Government (and much of its people) are in support of the Syrian Government and the Syrian President, Syria holds several key strategic factors which make it a juicy and important target to "control" by the west, these are mainly geographic location and the importance of the countries bordering Syria within the region.

    Russia has just sent a complete fleet of ships to enter the Syrian waters (In addition to the bases as mentioned by gamersliverfang not mention Cyber support and intelligence between both countries), Syria is one of the last countries that has a generally anti-west/USA system and system of thought, and this is not in favor of the west especially for a country that is surrounded by others such as Palestine, Jordan, IIraq and Turkey plus a huge border with the Mediterranean Sea, Russiais making it crystal clear to the west that it is a major power in the world and is not about to hand the whole region on a silver platter to the west, BRICS are the upcoming world power and their agenda does not match with that of the west and their policies.

    I agree with much of what gamerliverfang and the quote of by cnnisbsoflies is clear that Russia ha not and will probably not change their politicalviews towards SYria and its government for the current time and somewhat the long future.

    July 11, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Reply
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