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Russian President Vladimir Putin appealed directly to the American people this week through a New York Times opinion piece in which he urged the United States not to strike Syria and instead seek a diplomatic solution. Putin said bypassing the United Nations and taking military action without a UN Security Council resolution could further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa, “unleash a new wave of terrorism,” and “undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem.” Putin said Russia is not “protecting the Syrian government, but international law.” He also cautioned that civilian casualties “are inevitable" no matter how targeted a military strike may be. He claimed "there is every reason to believe" opposition forces, and not the Syrian military, used chemical weapons in Syria. And, he took umbrage with the idea of American exceptionalism, warning that it is "extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional." Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said he "almost wanted to vomit" after reading Putin's Sept. 11 piece while at dinner, reported CNN. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday, in a tweet, called Putin's piece "an insult to the intelligence of every American." (See also Washington Post's fact check of Putin's piece.)