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Russia’s Move On Syria

Moscow jumps in to push international control of Syria’s chemical weapons. Is this the off-ramp from a crisis?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Mouallem arrive for a news conference after their talks in Moscow on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. (AP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Mouallem arrive for a news conference after their talks in Moscow on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. (AP)

Whiplash, maybe, in the hubbub over Syria.  Just as the President’s ready to make his big speech to the nation to get in there, strike militarily, here comes Russia with a fascinating curveball.  John Kerry raised it.  Didn’t mean it.

Now Moscow’s all over it, and maybe Washington too:  Have Syria surrender control of its chemical weapons.  Even destroy them.  And no American strike.  The president’s speechwriters for tonight must be spinning.  It may be an off-ramp from crisis, political defeat, missiles.  It may be a nothing.

This hour, On Point:  Syria, Washington, and the Russia move.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Peter Baker, White House Correspondent for the New York Times, former Moscow Bureau chief for The Washington Post, and co-author of “Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the End of Revolution” with Susan Glasser. (@peterbakernyt)

Joshua Landis, professor and director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. (@joahua_landis)

Fiona Hill, director of the Center on the United States and Europe and senior fellow in the Foreign Policy department at the Brookings Institution. Co-author of the new book “Mr. Vladimir Putin: Operative in the Kremlin” with Clifford G. Gaddy.

Joseph Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund, and member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s International Security Advisory Board and the Council on Foreign Relations. (@Cirincione)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Washington Post: Obama sees potential ‘breakthrough’ in Russia’s Syria proposal — “Russia and Syria embraced Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s suggestion Monday that the Syrian government could avert a U.S. attack by placing its chemical weapons under international control, upending the Obama administration’s efforts to sharpen its case for military action.”

The Guardian: Can Russia push Syria to disarm? — “If Russia does persuade Syria to surrender its chemical arsenal, it could put off the threat of direct US military action for months at least, but it will also enmesh Damascus in new international obligations that could strengthen the case for outside intervention if it ever breaks the rules.”

Slate: Did John Kerry Just Accidentally Find a Workable Solution for Syria? — “For a brief period this morning it appeared as though Kerry’s off-the-cuff hypothetical would largely remain overshadowed by his curious decision to call any American-led attack ‘unbelievably small.’ But that changed this afternoon once Assad and his strongest ally, Russia, caught everyone off guard by suggesting that Kerry’s ad-libbed solution was actually workable.”

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