WASHINGTON -- Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) called a New York Times op-ed by Russian President Vladimir Putin "obnoxious and misleading and 100 percent unhelpful" as Russia and the U.S. negotiate over how to handle Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.
"If he continues with those kinds of stunts, it sends a signal to me that he's kind of leaving us one choice," said Casey, who has long focused on Syria and has vocally backed President Obama's call for a military strike in response to alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government. Casey spoke to the Inquirer about the op-ed Thursday.
New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), also a leading advocate for military intervention, told CNN that after reading Putin's piece, "I almost wanted to vomit."
"I worry when someone who came up through the KGB tells us what is in our national interests, and what is not. It really raises the question of how serious the Russian proposal is," said Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Putin, who has worked to broker a deal to convince Syria to turn over its chemical weapons and avert a threatened U.S. attack, wrote in the Times that "there is every reason to believe" a recent poison gas attack was initiated by Syrian rebels, not the Army -- a direct contradiction of U.S. assessments.
Putin also questioned American exceptionalism, writing, "it is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation."
Casey said he still hopes a diplomatic solution can resolve the crisis in Syria.
"I hope that’s kind of (Putin) playing a game and doing some posturing," he said. "If he’s serious about working with us then I'd be willing to say I didn't like his op-ed, but we'll move beyond it."