President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia suddenly escalated the stakes in his contest with the West over influence in the Middle East on Wednesday, as Russian pilots carried out their first airstrikes in Syria.
Russian warplanes dropped bombs near the central city of Homs, according to American officials in Washington, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make a public statement. Moscow informed American officials in advance, they said.
The attack came hours after Mr. Putin pushed a measure through the upper house of Parliament approving the use of Russian military forces abroad.
Putin’s parliament might be more rubber stamp than democratic, but at least he got its seal of approval before going to war, unlike our American Caudillo who launched his illegal war in Libya without so much as a by-your-leave to Congress.
My paranoid side wonders if this whole thing isn’t a setup from the get-go. Based on snippets I’ve read here and there across the internet’s darker tubes, ISIS seems at least in part to be a front for Russian military and energy interests. Certainly, their propaganda/snuff films enjoy a level of professionalism one associates more with Russian intelligence than with Islamic death cultists. And a quick “defeat” of ISIS by Russian forces would position Putin as the savior of Syria, Iraq, and various Middle Eastern minority groups.
But those are just paranoid thoughts, probably best kept private.
Perhaps we’ll know more as we watch Putin’s War unfold.