A day after President Barack Obama made his case for both military intervention and diplomacy in Syria, world powers worked Wednesday to defuse the crisis.
Syria has agreed to a Russian plan to give up its chemical weapons, a move that could forestall international military strikes and possibly give diplomacy some positive traction.
But the bloody conflict in Syria continues to rage, and roadblocks and questions remain as to what's next for the war-ravaged Middle Eastern nation.
Latest developments Wednesday:
-- Using a New York Times op-ed "to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders ... at a time of insufficient communication between our societies," Russian President Vladimir Putin warned about the ramifications to the Middle East and the world if countries bypass the United Nations and pursue military action.
"The potential strike by the United States against Syria ... will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria's borders," Putin wrote in the editorial, which appeared online Wednesday night. "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."
-- Calling the ongoing civil war an "internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition," Putin cautioned against siding with an opposition in Syria he says includes "more than enough (al) Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes." (He did not mention the fact Russia has long supplied arms to Syria's government.)
-- Russia, its leader said, is "not protecting the Syrian government" but rather favors "a compromise plan." Military action against the Syrian government without U.N. Security Council approval "is unacceptable under the United Nations charter and would constitute an act of aggression," according to Putin.
-- Disputing assertions by Obama and others, Putin said "there is every reason to believe (chemical weapons were) used not by the Syrian army, but by opposition forces to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists."
-- Using military force has "proved ineffective and pointless" in places like Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, Russia's president claimed in the op-ed. He surmised that civilian casualties in Syria, if there were strikes, would be "inevitable."
-- Putin ended his piece by saying that he and Obama share "a growing trust." Yet he also challenged Obama's case for American exceptionalism in his speech Tuesday night, saying, "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation." "We are all different," Putin concluded, "but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."
-- U.N. chemical weapons inspectors are expected next week to deliver their report about an August 21 attack outside Damascus to the U.N. Security Council, sources say. One diplomatic source told CNN that the findings would be presented on Monday. Another source told CNN that the report would "likely" be presented Monday or Tuesday. The United Nations has not detailed a timeline, and the fluid diplomatic movement on the Syria crisis could contribute to delays.
-- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke by phone Wednesday, on the eve of their scheduled meeting in Switzerland. The two discussed a "shared objective of having a substantive discussion about the mechanics of identifying, verifying and ultimately destroying Assad's chemical weapons stockpile," a senior State Department official said.
-- State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the talks in Geneva between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will last two days -- Thursday and Friday, and possibly could extend to Saturday. She said Kerry hopes to meet with Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. and Arab League special envoy to Syria.
-- This meeting comes as Russia announced an initiative to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control. Kerry is bringing an interagency team of experts to deal with "identifying the mechanics" of how the plan will work, Psaki said. "So how would you go in? How would you destroy? What are the steps you would take?"
-- Russian officials have submitted a plan to the United States for putting Syria's chemical weaponry under international control, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reported Wednesday, citing a Russian diplomatic source.
-- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will be heading to Geneva, Switzerland, for talks Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The two diplomats have talked nine times since the August 21 attack.
-- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Wednesday that "while there have been significant efforts by the international community to end the violence and push for a political solution, these efforts have not yet borne fruit."
-- "Our collective failure to prevent atrocity crimes in Syria over the past two and a half years will remain a heavy burden on the standing of the United Nations and its member states," Ban said.
-- A news report quoted Luxembourg's foreign minister as saying the U.N. inspectors' report on the August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria could be released Monday. A U.N. diplomat with knowledge of Jean Asselborn's comments said it "seemed likely the report could be delivered in that time frame."
-- French President Francois Hollande, in a statement, said Paris is determined to explore all avenues at the U.N. Security Council "to allow an effective and verifiable monitoring" of chemical weapons in Syria. "France will remain - in constant contact with its partners - ready to" take action against "the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and to dissuade it from doing it again," Hollande said.
-- China says it will stay in communication with all relevant parties on possible actions that could be taken by the U.N. Security Council. "We maintain that actions taken by the Security Council should be based on the consensus reached between all parties through full consultation. And these actions should help ease tensions in Syria, maintain stability in the region and solve the Syrian issue politically," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.