Russian President Valdimir Putin published "A Plea for Caution From Russia" in today's The New York Times, and since the op-ed went online last night, it's received more than 2,240 comments. The Russian leader wants to speak to the American people and their leaders directly about the situation in Syria, and in the well-written if not controversial piece, he argues that the US must go through the UN if it wants to strike Syria and also specifically calls out President Obama for something he said in his Tuesday-night address. Putin is the latest figure in the Syria saga to make his position clear. Everyone from Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad himself have spoken out to share their positions. Here is a recap.
Sept. 11 — President Vladimir Putin in an NYT Op-Ed
On the legality of a strike: "Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression."
On the similarities to Iraq: "It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States."
On Obama's case for American exceptionalism: "And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States' policy is 'what makes America different. It's what makes us exceptional.' It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. . . . We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."
On evidence Assad used chemical weapons: "No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists."
Sept. 10 — President Barack Obama in an Address to American Public
On working on a diplomatic solution: "We will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the UN Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control."
On America's role in the world: "America is not the world's policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong, but when with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That's what makes America different. That's what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth."
Sept. 10 — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Floor of the Senate
On early announcements of a Syria strike: "There is absolutely no reason to signal to the enemy when and how, and for how long, you plan to strike them — none. As I've said before, you don't send out a save-the-date card to the enemy."
On contradictions within the plan: "Either we will strike targets that threaten the stability of the regime — something the president says he does not intend to do — or we will execute a strike so narrow as to be a mere demonstration."
On his final verdict: "I will be voting against this resolution — a vital national security risk is clearly not at play."
Keep reading for the timeline of high-profile positions on Syria.