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U.S.-Russia Divide Sharpens Over Syria

Publication Date: 
June 14, 2012
Los Angeles Times
Carol J. Williams

Professor Allen Weiner is quoted by Carol J. Williams of the Los Angeles Times on how Russia is unlikely to change course on Syria because of how the conflict is "playing at home."

The war of words between Moscow and Washington about the Syrian conflict evokes disturbing reminders of Cold War-era confrontation, with U.S. officials accusing Russia of arming the Damascus regime and the Kremlin contending the Obama administration dangerously encourages the rebels.

The world has changed dramatically since the 1980s, when the nuclear-armed superpowers backed rival factions in proxy wars in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Nicaragua and elsewhere. But lingering mistrust and competing interests continue to keep the United States and post-Soviet Russia on opposite sides of regional conflicts.


Allen Weiner, a Stanford professor of international law and security, likewise sees little likelihood of Russia changing course on Syria now that the conflict has become a battle between armed factions rather than regime repression of demonstrators who began their protests in March 2011.

"This is playing extremely well at home in Russia," Weiner said of Moscow's diplomats flexing their muscle in the Middle East. "Russians see the preservation of the Assad regime as important to their international prestige. We see them as being obstructionist. But they see this as Russia standing up to the West."