Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to address the UN General Assembly for the first time in over a decade at today.
The speech was originally scheduled for 10:30 EST but will be close to 12:30 EST.
The Russian president is expected to use the speech to flesh out his proposal for a Russian-led anti-ISIS coalition — which now includes Syria, Iraq, and Iran — and to emphasise how US intervention in the Middle East has only ever destabilized the region.
In effect, his speech will likely reflect what he told Charlie Rose in an interview on Sunday.
“There is no other solution to the Syrian crisis than strengthening the effective government and rendering them help in fighting terrorism, and urging them to engage in positive dialogue with the rational opposition and conduct reform… We would welcome a common platform for collective action against the terrorists,” he asserted.
Russia has been building up its military presence in Syria since late August in an effort to save the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad from being overthrown by the many rebel groups operating, and gaining territory, within Syria.
Putin has been working to challenge America’s influence in the region by forging ties with Iran and expanding Russia’s leadership role in Syria and Iraq, and it
seems to be working: Iraq announced on Sunday that it had reached a deal with Russia, Syria, and Iran to begin sharing “security and intelligence” information about ISIS, the Associated Press reported.
Broadly, Putin wants to show that he is willing to go further than the US and coalition partners to meet his stated regional goals, Boris Zilberman, a Russia expert at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, noted
to Business Insider. Those goals apparently include keeping Assad in power.
Now, more and more Western leaders — including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Secretary of State John Kerry — are beginning to accept Russia’s assertion that the jihadists in Syria can only be defeated if Assad remains in power, at least in the short term.
Obama, too, has been forced to acknowledge Russia’s expanding role in the region: The President, who has not spoken to Putin face-to-face in more than two years, will meet with him today following both leaders’ speeches at the UN.
The Daily Beast’s Ben Ninman warns that Obama should be wary: “The Russian president is hoping to snare his American counterpart by forcing him to accept Assad’s legitimacy. Obama should resist.”
During his speech at the UN on Monday, Obama said he was prepared to work with both Russia and Iran to solve the Syrian crisis.
And while he said Assad should not remain in place, he advocated a “managed transition” from Assad to a new leader. That could be a compromise that Russia and Iran — which are doubling down on propping up Assad — will certainly welcome as the military stalemate continues.
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