WASHINGTON -- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) called the apparent diplomatic alternative to a U.S. military strike on Syria a "big win" for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"I do think Putin's playing chess and we're playing tick-tack-toe," Rogers said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. "Think about where he is and what he wanted out of Syria. He got everything he wanted, including taking away the president's advantage of a guaranteed or at least a credible military strike."
"He wanted [Syrian President Bashar] Assad there," Rogers continued. "He gets to keep his warm water port. He gets to keep his military contracts. And he gives breathing space to both Hezbollah, which is fighting on behalf of Assad, and Assad. And he creates a problem for us with al-Qaeda operating in the [Middle] East. This was a big win for him."
On Saturday, U.S. and Russian officials reached a deal calling on Syria to describe in detail and hand over its chemical weapons arsenal, potentially averting a U.S. attack in reprisal for Assad's alleged use of those weapons against his own people. On Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the threat of force remains if Assad does not implement the agreement.
"We cannot have hollow words in the conduct of international affairs," Kerry said.
Still, Rogers and some other Republicans were not impressed.
"The fact is, Russian influence in the Middle East increased dramatically," said former House Speaker and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, also speaking on CNN Sunday. "We're relying on the Russians. We're now following from behind, not leading from behind. This is not a good long-term position."