The White House cannot trust Russian President Vladimir Putin to back U.S. national security interests in Syria, but has no choice but to work with him to ensure the country cedes its chemical weapon capabilities, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Sunday.
When asked on CBS's "Face The Nation" whether she trusts the Russian leader to push the Syrian regime toward disarmament, Albright quickly replied "no."
Russia's long-standing strategic ties to the Assad regime help make the Syrian crisis one of the most difficult foreign policy challenges facing President Obama.
From the ongoing civil war in the country, to the threat of a larger, sectarian-driven regional war, "It is very hard for me to believe that there could be something worse" than the situation in Syria, Albright said.
While the former top U.S. diplomat could not say what the possible fallout from U.S. efforts in Syria will be over the next five to ten years, she noted "it can only get worse if we do not do anything."
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov approved the framework for the Syrian disarmament deal on Saturday.
Under that framework, Syrian President Bashar Assad must hand over his chemical weapons stocks to international control, led by the United Nations.
But the deal does not prevent Russia from continuing to arm Assad's forces and allows Moscow to keep its military bases in the country, House intelligence committee chief Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Sunday.
Additionally, any military action to ensure Assad complies with the disarmament deal will be decided by the U.N. Security Council, where Russia holds a key vote, Rogers said on CNN's "State Of The Union."
Albright said she is "great believer in the combination of force and diplomacy" in protecting U.S. national security priorities.
That said, Albright made clear that Washington "needs to keep the use of force on the table," regardless of Russian or other nations' objectives to resolve the Syrian crisis.