"It is not possible for Mr. Assad to regain legitimacy in a country where he's killed tens of thousands of his own people," Obama said. "So far, at least, Mr. Putin has rejected that logic."

Obama added: "I'm always hopeful, and I will continue to engage him."

Obama's challenge to change Putin's mind comes as China warns that any military action against Syria will push up oil prices and hurt the world economy.

Speaking in St. Petersburg Thursday, Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said that "Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the oil price -- it will cause a hike in the oil price," before citing estimates that a $10 rise in oil prices could push down global growth by 0.25 percent. Guangyao also urged a U.N.-negotiated solution to the chemical weapons standoff. Like Russia, China is a major arms supplier to Syria and holds veto power over any Security Council resolution.

Putin said in a published interview this week that he'd reconsider the status of a suspended S-300 missile defense contract.

"We have a contract for the delivery of the S-300s. We have supplied some of the components, but the delivery hasn't been completed," he said. "We have suspended it for now. But if we see that steps are taken that violate the existing international norms, we shall think how we should act in the future, in particular regarding supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world."

The possibility for Russia stepping up its role in the region makes Obama's visit to Russia all the more critical. 


Israel conducted a successful test of its Arrow missile defense system in December 2005. On Tuesday September 3 2013 Israel tested another missile. Russia's official Itar-Tass news agency reported that Moscow had detected the launch of two ballistic “objects” in the Mediterranean area.

Israel test-fired a U.S.-backed missile over the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday in an unannounced move that added to jitters in the region amid possible strikes on Syria.

An Israeli warplane fired a “Sparrow” missile that was successfully detected and shot down by an interceptor shortly after 9.15 a.m. local time (3.15 a.m. ET), according to statements issued by Israel and the United States. Pentagon press secretary George Little issued a written statement confirming the move calling it a "U.S.-Israel Missile Defense test."
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