Night Watch

Russia:President Putin today accused the West of worsening the situation in Syria by "blowing up an internal conflict" there. His remarks were broadcast by state news television channel Rossiya 24.

At an international meeting Putin interrupted former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon who said mass murder in Syria must be stopped. "Of course, we cannot calmly watch mass murder," Putin said. "But let's be honest with each other: yes, there was an internal conflict in Syria, but it was immediately blown up from abroad, and weapons and rebels started coming into Syria."

He accused the West of supporting rebels in the Syrian conflict. "You are helping them to come to power. And what will you do next? Will you take a newspaper and push them away from power?" Putin asked.

According to Putin, the West has no answer to the question what will happen next in Syria. To the question "what will you do?", the West replies "we don't know", Putin said. "But if you don't know, what is the point of launching strikes that are to no avail and without knowing how they will end?" …

Later in the discussion, Putin said it was "premature" to ask him about what Russia would do in the event of Syria's failing to meet its obligations under the chemical weapons deal. "So far we have had no reasons to believe that the Syrians will not meet their obligations," he said.

Comment: Putin was in fine fettle and also criticized Western interventions in Iraq and Libya as failures for making changes without thinking through the consequences. His linkage of Iraq, Libya and Syria - all Soviet/Russian clients - suggests he perceives the West deliberately has acted to strip Russia of its clients. In this view, that matches a pattern similar to the eastern expansion of NATO that stripped Russia of its buffer states in eastern Europe and the Baltic.

In eastern Europe, Putin stopped NATO's expansion at the Ukraine and at Georgia and continues to harass the Baltic members of NATO. In the Middle East, his words and demeanor indicate Syria is where Putin is drawing hisline. Russia is stronger now than it was when NATO expanded eastward.

One of the many messages behind the message is payback.

Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.