Russian President Vladimir Putin greeted President Obama with a friendly handshake when he landed in Russia for the G20 summit earlier Thursday, but don’t let that fool you: The two sides don’t look any closer to finding common ground on the topic of Syria than they have for the past two years. American and British leaders continue to press for a military strike against the country, and Russia continued to warn against any military action in the country.
On the U.S. side, Senator Dianne Feinstein had the CIA make a DVD with evidence that the Assad regime used chemical weapons, screened it for members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee this morning, and pledged to send a copy to every member of the Senate, so they could view the evidence “at their leisure” (it certainly sounds like a leisurely activity).
In the U.K., Prime Minister David Cameron, who proposed that England enter the war against Syria but was thwarted by Parliament, said that his government has fresh evidence of chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime, and also insisted that the Parliamentary vote doesn’t make him a non-player in the debate.
“The House of Commons decision, as I interpret it, is that there should be no British involvement in that military action, and I respect that,” Cameron said. “But the world does need to respond strongly, and I won’t stop making that argument.” Cameron didn’t clarify what, substantively, would be accomplished by him “making that argument.”
Meanwhile, Russia, which provides Syria with weapons and generally opposes any action against the country, struck a calm, level-headed tone by suggesting that a U.S. strike could lead to nuclear war.
"If a warhead, by design or by chance, were to hit the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) near Damascus, the consequences could be catastrophic," said Aleksandr Lukashevich, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.
Obama’s recent announcement that the U.S. would launch airstrikes in Syria has brought the the country’s brutal civil war back into the limelight, even though the country has been racked with violence for roughly two and a half years. Russia and the West will undoubtedly discuss the issue at the G20 summit, but as the summit begins, it looks like there’s still a pretty big chasm between the two sides.