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AEI: Putin and Obama’s Syrian Chess Match

'Obama gave the geo-strategic game that Putin is playing a huge opening'

• September 12, 2013 10:03 am

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The American Enterprise Institute's Director of Russian Studies Leon Aron said the chess match between U.S. president Barack Obama and Russian president Vladimir Putin over Syria showed the latter emerging a clear victor, in a new video released Thursday.

Putin demonstrated himself to be a go-to broker to prevent the U.S. from launching military strikes and someone who could swing Obama to his own method of thinking, Aron said.

The latest unusual development over the Syrian crisis came Wednesday with the surprising publishing of Putin's op-ed in the New York Times Wednesday, arguing against U.S. military intervention. It came one day after Obama addressed Americans by saying a vote from Congress on the military resolution would be postponed while the U.S. explored a Russian-backed plan to secure Bashar al-Assad's stockpile of chemical weapons.

"Russia's intervention in the Syrian issue has secured its standing in the international community, has given a significant boost to Putin's sagging domestic popularity, and most importantly, it achieved Russia's most important goal which is the preservation of the Bashar al-Assad regime," Aron said.

He argued the over-arching goal for Putin and Russia in foreign policy has been the prevention of regime change in friendly, authoritarian countries, explaining their backing of Assad.

In this global battle of wits, Aron said Putin emerged as someone unwilling to bend to the United States.

"[Putin] stands up to Obama, and in the end swings Obama to his own way of thinking and direction," he said. "Russians play chess by narrowly defining the cause as strictly limited to the use of chemical weapons. Obama gave the geo-strategic game that Putin is playing a huge opening, from the Russian point of view, and Putin essentially drove a tank through it."