Rep. Peter King said on Friday that Russia is "holding all the cards right now" in the negotiations to get Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to international control.
"After 40 years of the Russians being ejected from the Middle East process, they're back in," the New York Republican, the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN. "It's a terrible situation for us to be in."
King, who earlier this week announced that he was seeking the White House in 2016, attacked President Barack Obama's handling of the Syrian situation, particularly in recent weeks.
"I have been very disappointed in the president's conduct on this since the very start," King said. "He's has a year to prepare before Syria crossed the red line. When it came, he said the U.S. military was ready to go."
He noted how Obama, who first said that he did not need congressional approval to strike President Bashar Assad over his use of chemical weapons in an Aug. 21 attack in Damascus suburbs, "then tries to get Congress involved."
"Then, he goes to Switzerland and says there was no Obama red line; it was a congressional red line — and then [Secretary of State] John Kerry says that the attack is going to incredibly small," King added. "That allowed the Russians to come in — and, now, they're back."
And, as such, Obama "handed" the Syrian crisis to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said.
"The fact that we even have to respond to Putin shows how this matter has been handled so terribly," King told CNN. "Putin has put himself back on the world stage, back in the Middle East, back on an equal footing with the President of the United States without firing a shot, not spending a ruble — and it's been handed to him.
"It's been gift-wrapped to him by President Obama."
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