One day soon Obama will come to realize that Assad is a pimp and it has been Putin all along. There is a causal relationship between Obama's dismal and hesitate support for Assad's opposition over the past three years and the expansionist Putin he is now facing in Ukraine.
Without Putin's support, Assad would already be done in Syria. The Syrian Arab Army has seen so many defections to the Free Syria Army that Assad has had to rely heavily on long range weapons like artillery and aircraft to suppress the rebellion. With these he can strike everywhere, punish resistive communities, make liberated areas uninhabitable, and terrorize his people, all while utilizing a minimum of soldiers not easily in a position to defect. For more "hands on" military requirements, he has fallen back on ideologically driven gangs, foreign fighters and Hezbullah.
These are the forces that have sustained Assad against the massive and popular opposition of his people for more than three years, and these require a long tail of supplies and cash. Sustaining the kind of air campaign that has kept Assad in power requires a steady supply of munitions, fuel, repair parts and new aircraft. It requires someone with deep pockets that has a stomach for financing immense slaughter. And it requires someone in a position to veto effective United Nations action. It would not be possible without Putin.
While Iran has also provided considerable support to Assad, we can assume that this too has met with Putin's blessing and support. The same could be said about Hezbullah. We shouldn't need Vito Corleone to tell us who the "Barzini" is in this cast of characters. Putin has been Assad's enabler from the very beginning.
That should give Putin a great deal of influence over Assad. So, it is hard not to conclude that Putin has signed off on Assad's use of sarin poison, that he hasn't opposed Assad's indiscriminate use of artillery and barrel bombs, industrial sized murder and torture and all the other horrors we've seen from a man who is pimping Hezbullah and the jihadists so Putin can keep his naval base.
consigliere, FM Lavrov, from again blaming the resistance for a chemical attack on itself and doing it with a straight face.
Now Lavrov's lies have spread from Syria to Ukraine. When he says with an equally straight face that the uniformly uniformed army brigades that took over Crimea weren't from Russia, he is relying on a tradition already set by the acceptance of his lies about Syria.
Who was it, really, that called Obama's red-line bluff back in August? Was it Assad or was it Putin? If Putin had prior knowledge of the attack and signed off on it, then it was Putin calling Obama's bluff. We do know that after the emptiness of Obama's threat had been exposed before all the world, it was Putin who opened a path of retreat for Obama, by brokering a chemical weapons deal that brought Assad in from the cold at the same time.
Since then, Putin has been on a roll, and so have his tanks. New fronts have opened up in Europe as Putin supplements his right to provide 'lawful' dictatorships with whatever they need to suppress their own people, with his "right" to intervene in a case were the government might dare used its army against its own people.
Putin has gotten to the place he is because he has already seen how little the West was willing to do stop his killer, his Luca Brasi, from slaughtering over a hundred thousand people, so he has that confidence moving forward.
The appeasement of Putin began in Syria and that is where it must end now. If the West wants to stop his relentless push before world war three breaks out, they must impose a no-fly zone over Syria and supply enough modern arms to the opposition to stop Assad in his tracks. With that message sent, they may then find sanctions an effective deterrent in Ukraine.