Senator John McCain used his time addressing the Munich Security Conference to voice his skepticism about the “pause” in hostilities which had been announced by Russia and the US earlier this weekend, and to criticize what he perceives as the West’s weak attitude towards Russian aggression in both Ukraine and the Middle East.
Mr McCain took the time to thank German chancellor Angela Merkel who he said “remains a source of conscience and resolve”.
He then quickly got to the point regarding the situation in Syria:
“I wish I could share the views of some of my friends who see this agreement as a potential breakthrough, but unfortunately I do not. I want to be wrong, but I fear I am not. My skepticism rests, simply, on the nature of our adversaries’ ambitions and the basic realities of power and commitment in the world today.”
Making clear that he didn’t believe in the agreement’s success he continued:
“Let’s be clear about what this agreement does: It permits the assault on Aleppo to continue for another week. It requires opposition groups to stop fighting, but it allows Russia to continue bombing terrorists, which it insists is everyone, even civilians”.
Regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goals he charged:
- Mr. Putin is not interested in being our partner.
- He wants to shore up the Assad regime.
- He wants to re-establish Russia as a major power in the Middle East.
- He wants to use Syria as a live-fire exercise for Russia’s modernizing military.
- He wants to turn Latakia province into a military outpost from which to harden and enforce a Russian sphere of influence – a new Kaliningrad or Crimea.
- And he wants to exacerbate the refugee crisis and use it as a weapon to divide the transatlantic alliance, undermining the European project.
“The only thing that has changed about Mr. Putin’s ambitions”, McCain said, “is that his appetite is growing with the eating.”