Fyodor Lukyanov on Russia and the growing inevitability of Western-led intervention in Syria:
In Moscow, hardy anyone believes that the tragedy with the toxic substances in the suburbs of Damascus is connected to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. He would have to be completely out of his mind to put himself at such risk now by using chemical weapons against the civilian population. On the other hand, the opposition, which is incapable of achieving any significant success, will benefit immensely from the scandal with the chemical weapons. However, it will be impossible to prove anything regardless of what the UN inspectors have to say. After all, their instructions were not to find out who was at fault, but rather to confirm or refute the mere fact of using the chemical weapons. Most likely, the verdict will be ambiguous and vague — “It is not yet clear, but there is room for assumption …” It is not a coincidence that William Hague and John Kerry rushed to announce that the regime already destroyed all evidence and that, purportedly, there would be no proof; however, it does not mean a thing. A massive preparation for the act of retaliation, without waiting for the outcome of the mission, shows nothing except that the outcome is irrelevant.
In general, the attacks from the US Navy aircraft carriers on targets in Syria will have an inflaming effect on public opinion in Russia, akin to the scene of the NATO missiles setting Belgrade on fire in 1999. Syria is perceived as somewhat more familiar and dear than a distant and strange Libya. The common perception is that Americans are totally out of control and they bomb anybody they want to. If nobody stops them, one day they will make a landing in our own backyard. This is a very common opinion in Russia, and it appeared right after the Cold War when the use of force by NATO became routine.