W.H. says Putin NYT op-ed puts Russia's credibility on the line

(CBS News) WASHINGTON -- Adding to the tension between Washington and Moscow over Syria is an item in the back of The New York Times Thursday that turned into front-page news. It's an op-ed piece under the byline "Vladimir V. Putin," in which the Russian president gives the United States quite a lecture.

Top advisers to President Barack Obama argue that with the op-ed, Putin has put Russia's credibility on the line. The White House did its best to overlook Putin's other insults and inconsistencies.

Putin denied the Syrian regime ordered the August 21 sarin gas attack which the administration claims killed over 1,400 civilians near Damascus, writing: "There is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patron."

But went on to admit the regime does have chemical weapons and that the world "must take advantage of the Syrian government's willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction."

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Putin then wagged a finger at U.S.-led military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya: "It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States," he wrote. "Is it in America's long-term interest? I doubt it."

Watch: Understanding Putin's "remarkable" editorial, below.

Lastly, the Russian president attacked President Obama's assertion Tuesday that the U.S. is obligated to fight chemical weapons use.

"I believe we should act," Obama said. "That's what makes America different. That's what makes us exceptional. With humility but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth."

"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," Putin wrote.

CBS News spoke with the director of the public relations firm in Moscow that made Putin's essay available to The New York Times. He said it was written by Putin, or those in his inner circle. Either way, the White House dismissed most of it as posturing but hopes the part about ridding Syria of chemicals weapons isn't.

  • Major Garrett

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