It's a bit of a game, isn't it?

Keen to take the initiative, the USA and France ratchet up the pressure to attack Syria on the grounds that Syria must be deterred from using chemical weapons again. Out of nowhere Russia suggests that Syria hand over all chemical weapons for destruction by international experts. This immediately offers a solution that wrongfoots the USA and France, forcing them to react (rather than initiate) and exposing whether military action is really intended to deter, or to aid regime change or to punish Assad.

Of course, this proposal didn't come from nowhere. And the clever Russian Foreign Minister, Lavrov, was disingenuous when, announcing the proposal, he said he didn't know if Syria would agree to it. Lavrov had just spent hours with the Syrian Foreign Minister and I don't think they were discussing the World Cup Qualifiers. Then we discover that they were working on this during the recent meeting of the G20.

Russia always held the key to this and they knew it. Their timing has been excellent – in diplomatic and political/tactical terms. And, yes, it has somewhat queried the pitch for those who wish to hit Syria hard. It possibly also exposes the difference between (a) the western leaders who have to worry about pesky parliaments and democratic accountability and (b) Putin.

Of course, whatever the tactics of the diplomats in their political game-playing, this remains anything but a game for the people whose slaughter merited no intervention until chemical weapons were introduced, when the game suddenly changed.

What price life?

The Russian offering might just have changed the game. Or simply delayed it. Or will the die now be cast by someone else?