Russian President Vladimir Putin is flaunting his disregard for US President Barack Obama by launching a campaign of airstrikes against Daesh (ISIL) in Syria, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says.
“The president of Russia has told the president of the United States to go to hell,” Graham told US media on Tuesday.
“Putin is doing what I would have suggested. He’s forming a regional force of Syrians, Hezbollah, Iranians, and now Russian ground forces, with Russian air power, and they’re going to go after the people that threaten” President Bashar al-Assad, he added.
The senator warned that giving Moscow the freedom to expand its campaign paves the way for a significant power shift in the Middle East and eventually tilts a big chunk of the Arab world towards Russia and Iran.
Graham said that President Obama believes Russia is stuck in Syria, but he is wrong. “They’re not being bogged down, they’re making a very smart play. At the end of the day they sized up and said, ‘if we use ground forces … America will do nothing about it.’”
‘Russia walking all over US’
Graham called on Obama to ignore the Russians and instead focus on forming a more effective coalition of its own.
The White House should “come up with a strategy that works. Stop being walked all over on,” he said.
The GOP senator added that Obama “could form a regional force, go in on the ground and go after ISIL with a regional approach, that will put pressure eventually on Assad to leave. But the vacuum he’s created has helped ISIL, Iran, and Russia.”
Meanwhile, Moscow has announced its readiness to coordinate its airstrikes with Washington.
Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said Tuesday that the Russian military “in principle” agrees with proposals made by the US military on coordinating airstrikes in Syria, Russia’s Tass news agency reported.
Russian warplanes have been pounding positions of Daesh in western and northern Syria since September 30.