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Live from New York, it's "Putin the Great"

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Reprinted from RT

From youtube.com/watch?v=hniR-KVtUCo: Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin
(image by YouTube)
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It's the ultimate geopolitical cliffhanger of the season: will US President Barack Obama finally decide to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, either this Friday or during the UN General Assembly next week in New York?

Russia's game changer in Syria -- not only weapons delivery but also the prospect of actual intervention by the Russian Air Force -- has left the Beltway reeling.

Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Walled Muallem has made it clear to RT that direct Russian involvement in the fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh and those "moderates" (US neocon designation) of Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. Al-Qaeda in Syria, is even more important than the arms delivery.

Washington, meanwhile, remains mired in a geopolitical black hole as far as Putin's strategy is concerned. The Obama administration's response will hinge on how Putin's speech at the UN will be received across the world, and how the frantic diplomacy related to the Syrian theatre of war will fare.

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It's naive to interpret the Russian military build-up as a mere show of force, an invitation to the Americans to finally sit down and discuss everything from southwest Asia to Ukraine.

It's also naive to interpret the move as Moscow's desperation for some kind of dialogue, any dialogue. There are no illusions at the Kremlin. Obama and Putin exchanged a few words in Beijing late last year -- and that's it; no official visits, no detailed meetings.

What's certain is that Putin's latest chess move carries the potential to smash to pieces the Obama administration's post-Maidan "strategy" of isolating Russia. Thus the predictable fear, loathing and paranoia permeating the Beltway.

Old Cold War 2.0 habits die hard -- if at all. Washington may extend the proverbial "financial support" to failed state, bankrupt Ukraine, and the pressure over the EU to keep sanctions throughout 2016 will remain. US "Think Tankland" keeps frantically spinning that the Obama administration is "not ready" to deal with Russia.

Well, at least the White House and the State Department seem to have finally understood that those Sukhois and surface-to-air missiles now in Syria are there to protect the Latakia air base. It was up to the Pentagon to elucidate a clueless John Kerry; these are for "force protection."

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The new batch includes 4 Su-30SM multirole combat jets; 12 Su-25 ground attack jets; 12 Su-24M attack fighters; and six possible Ka-52 attack helicopters. According to IHS Jane's, these provide "a significant capability to target rebels opposed to the Syrian government and to secure the Latakia homeland of President Bashar al-Assad."

The elucidation came after Pentagon supremo Ash Carter and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a 50-minute phone talk. The fact that this was their first phoner in more than a year tells everything one needs to know about the Obama administration's "diplomatic" skills.

Inevitably, Kerry had to change his tune; the weapons do not raise "serious questions" anymore. Now Kerry is essentially saying Moscow has the right to turbo-charge its peace-for-Syria drive, and the White House is not fussy about Assad's departure date anymore, as long as there is a "transition."

Watch the chessboard

Putin is bound to deliver a showstopper at the UN. Spare a thought for the Obama administration's foreign policy "muppets," including the neocon cell at the State Department. Putin, under the glare of global public opinion, will frame the absolute defeat of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh as the key geopolitical issue of these times; he will commit Russia to it; and he will propose for the "West" to join in.

Scenario 1: Washington and its EU minions decide to support the Russian drive, or at least have the US-led coalition of dodgy opportunists work side-by-side with Russia -- and Iran. This means helping Damascus to win a real war against ("Caliphate") terror. "Assad must go" may even go afterwards. But he'll go as a winner. The Obama administration -- as well as Sultan Erdogan, Qatar, the House of Saud -- will be held responsible all across the world for prolonging a tragedy that could have been resolved in 2012. And Russia will be recognized as the ultimate defender of civilization against barbarism.

Scenario 2: Washington and the EU minions refuse to act side-by-side with Russia, and continue relying on the appalling performance of the coalition of the dodgy opportunists -- for instance, as in Erdogan bombing Kurds and not ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, and the French staging puny airstrikes invoking "self-defense" (I'm not making this up; it's the official Elysee Palace version.) The whole world will interpret it for what it is; the NATO-GCC combo is not really interested in smashing the Salafi-jihadis. Imagine the cataclysmic diplomatic/geopolitical fallout of five years of NATO-GCC enabling hardcore jihadis.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)
 

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