Russian leader Vladimir Putin is making a direct appeal to the United States to proceed with caution regarding Syria.  In a "New York times" Op-Ed piece, Putin writes, "Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders."  He says a potential military strike by the U.S. against Syria "will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria's borders."  While he acknowledges that "no one doubts poison gas was used in Syria", he quickly adds "there is every reason to believe it was not used by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons." 

Putin emphasizes he believes a military strike there "could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Putin underlines that it will improve the atmosphere in international affairs if using force against Syria can be avoided.  He suggests "It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues. 

The Russian president adds that it's "alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States." Putin then says he doubts it's in America's interests to attack Syria.  He underlines that if an attack is launched, "civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect."