Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the US of consequences if Washington militarily intervenes in the Syrian conflict, ahead of talks between John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.
In an opinion piece in the New York Times, the Russian leader makes a direct plea to Americans that a military strike on Syria will open a new dangerous front for the Obama administration.
Putin again suggests that UN Security Council approval is essential for the use of force, adding: "A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and further destabilise the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance."
President Barack Obama had delayed a Congress vote to authorise a military strike on Syria following Russia's diplomatic moves. The key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had suggested that Damascus keep the chemical weapons under international control, forcing Obama to rethink his military option.
Putin's lengthy article titled "A plea for caution from Russia" reiterates that the Syrian conflict should be resolved through diplomacy rather than military strikes.
Referring to Obama's latest televised speech to Americans, Putin writes: "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too."
Kerry and Lavrov, respectively US secretary of state and Russian foreign minister, are due to hold talks on the status of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.
The meeting could potentially be a game-changer on whether the US will press ahead with a targeted strike on the Assad regime. Although Syria has formally agreed to the proposal of placing chemical weapons under international control, Washington remains sceptical of the regime's pledge.
Kerry is also expected to meet UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in Geneva. The US-Russia talks will go on for at least for two days, said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.