President Obama appeared to take a veiled shot at Russia during his prime-time address Sunday, excluding it from the “friends and allies” he said are working most closely with the United States to defeat the Islamic State and radical Islamic movements in the wake of last week’s terror attack in California.
Mr. Obama did not mention Russia’s stepped-up military campaign when addressing efforts being made with “our closest allies” to destroy the Islamic State in Syria, also knows as ISIS and ISL, which he said include increased intelligence cooperation, disrupting the group’s international funding system and pursuing a cease-fire and political settlement to the Syrian civil war.
In his only reference to Moscow’s recent moves, Mr. Obama said a Syrian political settlement would allow “our allies, but also countries like Russia, to focus on the common goal of destroying ISIL, a group that threatens us all.”
The tone was very different from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the-nation address last week in which he openly called for much closer cooperation between Moscow and the West in the fight against Islamic State.
“We must leave all arguments and disagreements behind and make one powerful fist, a single anti-terror front, which would work on the basis of international law under the aegis of the United Nations,” Mr. Putin said, a comment that some also saw as a dig at the U.S.-assembled and U.S.-led international coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin have long been on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict. Mr. Putin has backed President Bashar Assad, whom Mr. Obama says must be removed as part of any political solution. Tension between the leaders soared in the wake of Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine last year, but some in Russia see the united front against Islamic State as a way for Russia to reclaim influence and end its international isolation.
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Russian began a full-throated campaign against the Islamic State following last month’s downing of a Russian passenger plane leaving Egypt. The Islamic State has claimed credit for the deadly crash that killed hundreds.
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