WASHINGTON, September 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has long accused the United States of sticking its nose in Moscow’s internal affairs, but the Kremlin boss on Thursday became a weapon in a domestic political dogfight in the American capital.
“Why is the Obama administration willing to negotiate with Putin on Syria but not with Congress to address Washington’s spending problem?” asks a video released Thursday by John Boehner, speaker of the US House of Representatives, whose fellow Republicans are locked in a budget standoff with US President Barack Obama.
The minute-long video trots out several clips of Obama and members of his administration saying the White House will not negotiate with Congress over raising the so-called “debt ceiling,” which dictates how much the US government is allowed to borrow.
That montage is followed by a barrage of clips showing Obama and his team touting negotiations with Putin, including over the Syria crisis, as well as footage of the two leaders interacting in cordial fashion.
The video also appears to go out of its way to lampoon Putin by including a still from a much-discussed photo shoot in which he is shown riding a horse bare-chested, as well as a headshot of the Russian leader in a large furry hat.
Putin has been a lightning rod for attention in the United States in recent week, most notably in the wake of an op-ed published in The New York Times in which he criticized a US push for military action against Syria and described the concept that Americans are “exceptional” as “dangerous.”
The Obama administration has backed punitive military action against Syria in response to an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus that it claims was carried out by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Moscow’s staunch ally in the Middle East, in his bloody two-year war against rebel forces.
Russia and the United States announced Saturday that they had agreed to join forces to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, though Moscow has said it will not accept military force as a means of enforcing Assad’s compliance.
Boehner is pushing for the Obama administration to slash federal spending as a condition for Congressional approval to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, which the United States is expected to exceed next month.
Failing to raise the debt ceiling could lead to a default by the US government and crater the American economy. Obama on Wednesday accused Republican lawmakers of trying to “extort” budget cuts that would damage Americans.