Putin fends off criticism in first meetings with Western leaders

For the first time since he launched air strikes in Syria, Vladimir Putin met western leaders, holding talks Friday in Paris with Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande. The US-led coalition had just issued a joint statement calling on Moscow to immediately cease attacking Syrian opposition forces and focus on fighting ISIS. Alexei Pushkov, a top Russian foreign affairs official, commented to French radio earlier: “The US is criticizing Russia for ‘lack of selectivity in our targets’ in Syria. So what stopped them from picking the right targets over a whole year, rather than just pointlessly bombing the desert?!”

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