US belief that Kremlin has outmanoeuvred White House

The Russian plan gained traction for a while, primarily because it did offer President Barack Obama an escape route from imminent humiliation here on Capitol Hill.

The key point is that no US official really believes that Syria is about to give up its entire stockpile of chemical weapons.

Weapons that are its military crown jewels and the nation's ultimate insurance policy.

It leaves America in a very vulnerable diplomatic position. The Senate was going to vote tomorrow and now it is not. The UN Security Council was going to meet today, and now it is not.

And the president in just a few hours is due to advocate before the American people missile strikes that he himself is no longer quite advocating.

He will say tonight that the threat of military action has opened up this diplomatic window, but his critics are going to be much, much harsher.

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French draft UN Syria resolution

An initial French draft UN Security Council resolution on Syria would demand a complete declaration of all chemical weapons within 15 days.