But they have become clearer in the days since Trump ordered airstrikes punishing Assad for a chemical attack.
On Wednesday, UK Ambassador to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft said at the UN Security Council that UK specialists had detected sarin or a sarin-like substance in samples taken from the site of the supposed chemical attack in Syria.
"In that sense he is himself an arch-terrorist, who has caused such an unquenchable thirst for revenge that he can never hope to govern his population again. They still have time to be on the right side of the argument".
"President Putin noted Russia's willingness to provide effective support to the peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis, the protection of Syria's territorial integrity and sovereignty", the telegram reads.
Russia Friday pressed ahead Friday for an "objective" investigation of last week's deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria.
In his cable, President Putin stressed the continued stance of his country in support of the peaceful settlement to the crisis in Syria through the comprehensive national dialogue which aims at stopping the bloodshed and uniting all the Syrians in combating the worldwide forces of terrorism and extremism. Trump said he changed his views on the Syrian situation after innocent children were killed in the attack.
"Let us face the truth: Assad has been clinging on. He has won back most of "operational" Syria".
"There is an interesting coincidence - the British lead the fact-finding mission, they have not told anyone what this mission is doing, but the United Kingdom researchers have already examined the samples".
The consensus had been that it would be more sensible to concentrate on the fight against the Islamic State group and to accept reluctantly that removing Assad, "though ultimately essential - should await a drawn out political solution".