On Wednesday, only two days after President Vladimir Putin held talks with U.S. counterpart Barack Obama in New York, Russian fighter jets bombed targets in Syria. The unexpected military strikes risked escalating the conflict.
After the Russian parliament Wednesday authorized the use of military force abroad, events moved quickly. A Russian official walked into the U.S. embassy in Baghdad to announce his country would begin the air strikes within an hour and requested the U.S. keep out of Syrian airspace.
Mr. Putin claims he shares the West’s aim of crushing the Islamic State, which controls large areas of Syria. However, the bombings on Wednesday were carried out north of Homs, an area where IS is not thought to be active.