David Cameron is in Washington this week, and Syria is among the things he is most keen to talk about with President Obama. Cameron, who spoke at length with Vladimir Putin about the Syrian crisis this weekend in Sochi, walked away feeling pretty good. UK’s Telegraph reports that Cameron felt the meetings were “extremely positive” and is heartened by what could be achieved at the upcoming Syria conference.
Mr Cameron said: “I was very heartened that while it is no secret that Britain and Russia have taken a very different approach to Syria, I was very struck in my conversations with President Putin that there is a recognition that it would be in all our interests to secure a safe and secure Syria with a democratic and pluralistic future and end the regional instability.
“We’ve got a long way to go but they were good talks and I’m looking forward to taking them up with President Obama and seeing if we can turn this proposal for a peace process…into something and make a real difference.”
We’re perhaps a bit less sanguine about the whole thing, especially in light of the fact that Russia provocatively announced over the weekend that they would deliver a series of promised air defenses to Assad after all, which could complicate any attempts to set up a no-fly zone over Syria. (See also Adam Garfinkle’s speculation on what the Russians are playing at from late last week.)
But as we said on Saturday, the lesson isn’t “don’t do business with Russia.” The lesson is “when doing business with Russia you need to understand the rules of the game.” Vladimir Putin plays hardball. We hope Mr. Cameron and Mr. Obama have their game faces on.
[David Cameron and Vladimir Putin watching Judo at the Olympics, photo courtesy Getty Images]