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Social Media Erupts Over Putin Article

  • VOA News

Russian President Vladimir Putin, followed by Armenian President Serge Sarkisian, enters a hall during a meeting outside Moscow on Sept. 3, 2013.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, followed by Armenian President Serge Sarkisian, enters a hall during a meeting outside Moscow on Sept. 3, 2013.

Social media erupted with criticism after Russian President Vladimir Putin appealed in a New York Times article to the American people for support of his Syria policy.

In an opinion piece, Putin urged caution against any unilateral action against Syria, arguing it could undermine the authority of the United Nations.

The Russian leader said it is "alarming" that military intervention in foreign countries' "internal conflicts" has become "commonplace" for the United States. Putin cited the conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq as examples.

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez said Putin's article made him almost want to "vomit." In an interview with CNN, Menendez said it made him question the seriousness of Russia's Syria proposal.

On Twitter, Republican Senator John McCain called Putin's article "an insult to the intelligence of every American."



The article prompted a flurry of other responses on the social media site.

A Pennsylvania man posted a "Tweet," saying whoever gave Putin space in the New York Times should be fired because the article contains "a lot of lies."

A London man said the Russian president "lecturing" the United States about international law and democracy was a reflection of the "absolutely surreal times we live in."

But a New York woman said she appreciated that Putin spoke directly to the American people. She said the Russian president gave a perspective that she did not have before.

"Isolated and alone"

Andrew Weiss, an expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said in an interview with VOA that Putin's message did not resonate with the American people. Weiss also served as a National Security Council Russia expert under former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

"There is too much kind of carping at President Obama; too much sense that it is the U.S. that is acting like an aggressor and is violating all of these principles of international law that Russia cherishes," Weiss said.

But Brookings Institution Russia analyst Clifford Gaddy disagreed. The co-author of "Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin" said the Russian leader made a compelling case for his country's priorities and took advantage of U.S. indecisiveness on Syria.

"He is just really taking advantage of the opening that U.S. policy on the wavering now, and public sentiment worldwide against U.S. military strikes has offered him. I think he did it pretty well," Gaddy said.

Russia has been trying to convince the Obama administration to back its diplomatic initiative as a response to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons. However, the United States has not ruled out military strikes.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said Putin was "isolated and alone" for asserting in the article that the Syrian opposition was most likely responsible for last month's alleged chemical weapons attack.

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