Mikhail Kasyanov, suspects the Kremlin has an ulterior motive for seeking "invincible unity".
"Mr Putin desperately wants co-operation with the West," Mr Kasyanov says. "First, in terms of lifting sanctions. Secondly, to recognise that without Russia nothing in this world could happen. External respect would be a source of respect inside Russia. He needs this to transfer through propaganda, through television, to the Russian people."
The Kremlin, though, is not prepared to secure invincible unity at any price. And certainly not if that price was Russia having to end its support for President Assad.
The United States, Britain and France may view the Syrian leader as an obstacle to peace, but as long as he stays in power in Damascus, Russia can expect to retain influence there.