The Lead with Jake Tapper

White House responds to Putin's NYT op-ed

By CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper

On the eve of an all-important pow-wow in Geneva, where Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart will talk over a plan for stripping Syria of chemical weapons, The New York Times published a stern, and at times standoffish op-ed from their brand new contributor: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Putin is now fully invested in Syria’s CW (chemical weapons) disarmament,” a senior White House official told CNN's Jake Tapper, when asked to respond to Putin’s op-ed.

In that opinion piece, Putin speaks directly to the American people and says, among many things, that there is "every reason to believe" it was the rebels, not regime forces, who used poison gas.

And in his final paragraph, Putin references President Barack Obama's speech on Syria Tuesday night, and slams the president’s assertion of American exceptionalism.

"I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States' policy is "what makes America different. It's what makes us exceptional." It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," Putin wrote.

“That’s all irrelevant,” the White House official said in response. “He put this proposal forward and he’s now invested in it. That’s good. That’s the best possible reaction. He’s fully invested in Syria’s CW disarmament and that’s potentially better than a military strike – which would deter and degrade but wouldn’t get rid of all the chemical weapons. He now owns this. He has fully asserted ownership of it and he needs to deliver.”