“Vladimir Putin’s announcement on Monday that Russia will begin pulling out of Syria appeared to take the White House by surprise, and revived concerns that the Russian leader is outmaneuvering Barack Obama,” states an article in Politico magazine.
The outlet notes that the White House officials have been caught off guard by the announcement, “with press secretary Josh Earnest punting on questions during the briefing and others trying to quickly gather information.”
Only recently the US president reiterated that Russia was "overextended" and "bleeding" in Syria after his repeated suggestions that Russia’s campaign in Syria would run along the same lines as the Soviet's nine-year invasion of Afghanistan.
However, this appears not to be the case.
The outlet expresses concern that Putin has repeatedly confounded Obama over the past two years, from the March 2014 reunification with Crimea to the military campaign in Syria.
The overwhelming majority (92%) responded positively with the remaining 8% split between “no” and “too soon to know.”
This time, without any understanding of President’s Putin's phrase that the military is set to partially withdraw because it has largely achieved its objectives, some analysts even suggest that the Russian president “has grown frustrated with Assad, concluding that the Syrian leader was too resistant to a peace agreement.”
“But once again, he’s demonstrated a remarkable propensity for pulling big surprises that throw just about everyone off balance, including senior members of his own government,” the magazine quotes Andrew Weiss, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who served in the Bill Clinton White House and State Department, as stating.