Top US official says Putin winging it in Syria
WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin is “winging” it in Syria, US National Intelligence Director James Clapper said, criticising Kremlin strongman’s actions in the Arab country.
“I personally question whether he has some long-term strategy or whether he is being very opportunistic on a day-to-day basis,” Clapper told CNN late Thursday. “And I think his intervention into Syria is another manifestation of that,” he added.
Asked if Putin had a plan for Syria, Clapper said he did not believe so. “What his long-term plan is, I’m not sure he has one,” Clapper said. “I think he is kind of winging this day to day,” he added.
Putin, whose Russian forces are conducting a separate bombing campaign to a US-led coalition in Syria, was being “very impulsive and opportunistic”, added Clapper.
Russia – which has pledged to support ally Damascus militarily, much to the West’s dismay – has insisted the airstrikes it has conducted since September 30 are hitting the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, and are being conducted at the Syrian leadership’s request.
But the US and its allies say Moscow’s strikes are aimed at Western-backed moderate rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.