Apparently Russian President Vladimir Putin's New York Times op-ed wasn't easy for one top Senate Democrat to swallow.
"I almost wanted to vomit," said New Jersey's Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who learned of Putin's message over dinner.
"I worry when someone who came up through the KGB tells us what is in our national interests, and what is not," he said on CNN Wednesday evening. "It really raises the questions of how serious this Russian proposal is."
In his op-ed “A Plea for Caution From Russia,” Putin — who is dangling the possibility of Syria giving up its chemical weapons to avert a U.S. strike — criticizeed President Barack Obama’s Tuesday speech that invoked American exceptionalism: “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation."
Menendez said despite Putin’s "in your face" piece, negotiations should still be pursued.
“It would be foolish to slam the door on diplomacy,” Menendez said. “We have to test it.”
Menendez added that Russian fear played a role in the original offer to have Syria give up its chemical weapons.
"The only reason that the Russians are even maneuvering in this way and considering the possibility is because of the credible use of force," Menendez said, adding that if there was no concern over an attack, the Russians would never have made the offer in the first place.
Other lawmakers are also skeptical over the reliability of Russia's diplomatic proposal.
"We have very little reason to believe that Moscow is a reliable diplomatic partner," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who opposes U.S. intervention Syria, on the Senate floor Wednesday, according to ABC News. "They are part of the problem in Syria, not part of the solution."
"Leaders in Damascus and Moscow should understand that Congress will be watching these negotiations very closely," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday. "If there is any indication these are not serious, that it's a ploy to delay, to obstruct, to divert, then I think we have to again give the president the authority to hold the Assad regime accountable."
Here's Menendez reacting to Putin's op-ed with CNN's Jake Tapper, via YouTube: