Vladimir Putin has made a direct personal appeal to the American people over the Syrian crisis.
In an opinion article in the New York Times, Vladimir Putin warns that a US military strike against Syria could unleash a new wave of terrorism.
The Russian president says millions of people see the US not as a model of democracy but as relying on brute force.
The US and Russia are due to hold talks in Geneva later over Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.
Moscow, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has proposed putting the weapons under international control before destroying them.
Damascus has agreed, at least partially, to the proposal, and President Barack Obama to put military action against Syria on hold.
The US blames the Syrian government for a chemical weapons attack near Damascus last month that killed hundreds. Syria blames the attack on rebels.
As the diplomatic efforts continue, the Syrian army has been trying to retake the Christian town of Maaloula which was overrun by rebel forces – including members of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front – at the weekend.
In the New York Times article, Vladimir Putin says recent events “have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders”.
He warned that the UN could suffer the same fate as its precursor, the League of Nations, if “influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization”.
“The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the Pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders,” Vladimir Putin says.
“A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”
Vladimir Putin said Russia was not protecting the Syrian government “but international law”.
He reiterated Russia’s opinion that the gas attack of August 21 was probably carried out by opposition forces “to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons”.
“Reports that militants are preparing another attack – this time against Israel – cannot be ignored,” he adds.
“It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force.”
The article comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva to discuss Moscow’s proposal.