The US has welcomed what it called "very specific" Russian proposals to secure the handover of Syria's chemical weapons before key talks in Geneva on Thursday.
Placing its faith in Moscow's leverage over its Syrian ally, the White House urged patience and said it was increasingly confident that its Kremlin partners were acting in good faith by "putting their prestige on the line".
"We have seen more co-operation from Russia in the last two days than we have heard in the last two years," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
"The proposal they have put forward is very specific and the Syrian reaction is a total about-face. This is significant."Are we really going to see Syria admit to the ownership of chemical weapons and provide details of their locations? Then permit UN arms inspectors to verify the position and supervise their destruction? Is this even possible in the middle of a civil war? And how long will it take to discover that the proposals are just another delaying tactic, allowing Assad to continue the assault on the rebels? And how does any of this help the poor damned Syrian people?
Furthermore, Obama and Kerry are not fools. They must know that they are being taken for a ride. So is their complaisant attitude a reflection of the fact that they have now decided that military intervention is no longer advisable or feasible? If so, it is cynicism at its most extreme.