Win McNamee/Getty Images
Less than a year ago, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stood side-by-side, laying out a joint plan to rid Syria of its dangerous chemical weapons stores.
That, of course, was before Russian troops invaded the disputed Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which voted to secede and join Russia a week ago. Subsequent sanctions from Western nations, the United States included, have eroded Russia-U.S. relations but have not stopped Moscow from continuing its push for Crimean control.
So where does that leave the plan to eliminate chemical weapons from Syria, asks Geoff Brumfiel over at NPR.
It’s a valid question, as disposal of the weapons relied on joint measures by Russia and America. A United States naval ship was supposed to destroy the chemicals while being escorted by cooperating Russian naval vessels. That plan is now on hold, and Syria may read the situation as a prime time to stall its shipments, with the superpowers otherwise occupied, says Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:
I think what you're likely to see is that the Assad regime will comply just enough, at a slower pace, as it consolidates its hold over the country militarily...The usefulness of the Assad regime drops off significantly after those chemical weapons are destroyed, because we no longer need the Assad regime to secure their safety. [NPR]