Russian leader Vladimir Putin has issued a caustic defence of his country's bombing raids in Syria, accusing the West of stonewalling requests for help on terrorist targets and failing to grasp the basic facts on the ground.
"We asked them to give us the information on the targets that they believe to be 100 percent terrorists and they refused to do that," he said.
"We then asked to please tell us which targets are not terrorists, and there was no answer, so what are we supposed to do. I am not making this up," he told a VTB Capital forum of bankers and investors in Moscow.
The US has accused the Kremlin of hitting enclaves of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army,and that its chief motive is to prop up a client regime in Damascus rather fighting the Jihadi extremists of Isil and al-Nusra.
Russia's defence ministry said on Tuesday that its air force had struck 86 "terrorist" targets in Syria over the past 24 hours, the most intensive bombing since the campaign began two weeks ago.
Mr Putin said there is no such thing as a secular resistance to president Bashar al-Assad in Syria, claiming that the US intelligence services and the Pentagon have wasted $500bn dollars on a largely fictious force.
Aappening in the country and what goals they are seeking to achieve," he said.
Mr Putin claimed the legal high ground, insisting that Russia is acting on the invitation of the Syrian authorities.
"All our actions fully comply with the UN charter, contrary to the actions of our colleagues from the so-called US-led international coalition," he said.
Despite his pugnacious tone, Mr Putin appeared keen to play up the idea of a grand coalition of Russia and the West to defeat Isil. "I believe we have a common interest but so far co-operation has been military only," he said.
Mr Putin said Russian and US pilots are exchanging "friend\foe" signals to avoid dangerous incidents in the combat theatre. "It is a sign of mutual trust, but it is not enough," he said, adding that he has offered to send a high-level mission to Washington led by premier Dmitry Medvedev to deepen ties — again receiving no answer.
Diplomats say Mr Putin may calculate that a gradual convergence of interests with the West in fighting ISIS could help mend relations so badly damaged by the Ukraine crisis, but he is doing it in such a way as to further irritate Washington and the key European powers.
European Union foreign ministers condemned the policy in a joint statement on Monday, demanding an immediate end to the bombing. “This military escalation risks prolonging the conflict, undermining a political process, aggravating the humanitarian situation and increasing radicalisation,” they said.
It is an open question whether Russia can afford to maintain a serious air campaign as the economy contracts by 3.8pc this year, and as crumbling oil revenues force the Kremlin to make drastic budget cuts.
Abu Mohamed al-Jolani, the leader of Al-Nusra jihadi front in Syria, said Russia will now suffer a whirlwind of reprisals.
"If the Russian army kills the people of Syria, then kill their people. If they kill our soldiers, then kill their soldiers. An eye for an eye," he said.