Putin Surprises US With Anti-ISIS Pact
He dismisses anti-Assad 'propaganda' ahead of Obama meeting
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 28, 2015 5:33 AM CDT
In this Sept. 20, 2015, photo released by the Kremlin press service, Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles as he listens to a question during an interview with CBS and PBS in Moscow.   (Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Face to face for the first time in nearly a year, President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin will confront rising tensions on Monday over Moscow's military engagement in Syria, as well as the stubborn crisis in Ukraine. Underscoring their differences, the US and Russia disagree even on the purpose of the meeting on the sidelines of an annual UN summit. The US says it will focus on Ukraine, while the Kremlin says it will focus on Syria and the fight against ISIS, where there's apparently much to discuss: The New York Times reports that US officials were surprised to discover on Sunday that Russia has joined an anti-ISIS intelligence-sharing pact with Syria, Iraq, and Iran.

In a wide-ranging 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday night, Putin said Russia doesn't plan to put combat troops in Syria "right now," but that Moscow is considering "intensifying" its work with the Assad regime and other allies. Putin, a former KGB agent, brushed aside interviewer Charlie Rose's suggestion that the regime's war crimes were actually helping ISIS. "Speaking in a professional language of intelligence services, I can tell you that this kind of assessment is an 'active measure' by enemies of Assad. It is anti-Syrian propaganda," he said. Later in the interview, Putin agreed with Rose when he said, "Once a KGB agent, always a KGB agent." (He also revealed what he most admires about America.)