(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Updated 2:04 p.m. | What did Speaker John A. Boehner think of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin’s op-ed in The New York Times?
“I was insulted,” the Ohio Republican said.
At his Thursday morning news conference with reporters, Boehner reiterated that he had “real doubts about the motives” of the Russians, who earlier this week signaled their interest in facilitating the destruction of all of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile to avert an imminent U.S. military strike against the Syrian government and president Bashar al-Assad.
When asked for his thoughts about Putin’s contribution to The New York Times’ opinion pages, Boehner would not get into specifics.
“There are a lot of ways I could describe this, but it’s probably why I’ve suggested I have doubts about the motives of the Russians and Assad,” he said.
In the op-ed, Putin urged the United States to stand with Russia to work toward a peaceful resolution. Among other things, he argued that “there is every reason to believe [chemical weapons were] 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.”
Putin also characterized the United States’ global image “not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan ‘you’re either with us or against us.'”
“It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States,” Putin added.
Boehner has supported President Barack Obama in seeking possible military intervention in Syria, calling it an issue of humanitarianism and also in the interest of the nation’s national security.
Obama decided earlier this week to postpone the looming and increasingly unpopular vote in Congress on authorizing use of force while a possible deal with Russian and Syria is worked out.
“I hope a diplomatic solution can be found,” Boehner said.
Update 2:04 p.m.
When Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was asked about the Putin op-ed, she largely passed on commenting.
“It is what it is,” Pelosi said.
Pressed on whether she was frustrated that Putin was the United States’ negotiating partner, Pelosi once again restrained herself.
“It is who it is,” she said. “Assad is part of the negotiations, and he, I think, is clearly a monster.”