Ambassador Frederic C. Hof is Diplomat in Residence at Bard College. He served as ambassador and special adviser for transition in Syria under President Barack Obama, with a distinguished career at the United States Army and the Department of State. His book on attempting to mediate Syria-Israel peace is forthcoming.
Vladimir Putin’s openness to sending Syrian mercenaries to Ukraine tracks with Russia’s actions in Syria and support for Bashar al Assad’s vicious campaign against his own citizens. Moreover, the U.S. response to the crisis in Syria, including Russia’s involvement there, showed its fear of starting World War III – a fear that Putin is likely to exploit as often as he can in as many places as he can, including Ukraine.
A Security Council that can neither stop the wanton slaughter of civilians in Syria nor organize a global response to Vladimir Putin’s latest criminality has lost the pretense of usefulness.