Boris Johnson has praised Vladimir Putin's "ruthless clarity" in backing President Assad to remove "maniac" Isis jihadists from Palmyra.
The London Mayor said the UK should send top archaeologists to help restore the ancient city of Palmyra after Putin exposed the West's "ineffective" response to the Syria crisis by helping liberate it.
The Mayor of London said the Russian president deserved credit for showing "ruthless clarity" in providing Bashar Assad's regime with military backing, reportedly including troops on the ground.
"If Putin's troops have helped winkle the maniacs from Palmyra, then (it pains me to admit) that is very much to the credit of the Russians," he wrote in his Daily Telegraph column.
"They have made the West look relatively ineffective; and so now is the time for us to make amends, and to play to our strengths.
"We have some of the greatest archaeological experts in the world.
"I hope that the Government will soon be funding them to go to Syria and help the work of restoration.
"It is far cheaper than bombing and more likely to lead to long-term tourism and economic prosperity.
"One day Syria's future will be glorious; but that will partly depend on the world's ability to enjoy its glorious past.
"British experts should and will be at the forefront of the project."
In pictures: Russian air strikes in Syria
In pictures: Russian air strikes in Syria
Volunteers from Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, help civilians after Russia carried out its first airstrikes in Syria
The aftermath of Russian airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria
Smoke billows from buildings in Talbiseh, in Homs province, western Syria, after airstrikes by Russian warplanes
Russian Air Forces carry out an air strike in the ISIS controlled Al-Raqqah Governorate. Russia's KAB-500s bombs completely destroy the Liwa al-Haqq command unit
Caspian Flotilla of the Russian Navy firing Kalibr cruise missiles against remote Isis targets in Syria
Caspian Flotilla of the Russian Navy firing Kalibr cruise missiles against remote Isis targets in Syria, a thousand kilometres away. The targets include ammunition factories, ammunition and fuel depots, command centres, and training camps
Russia claimed it hit eight Isis targets, including a "terrorist HQ and co-ordination centre" that was completely destroyed
A release from the Russian defence ministry purportedly showing targets in Syria being hit
A video grab taken from the footage made available on the Russian Defence Ministry's official website, purporting to show an airstrike in Syria
Russia launched air strikes in war-torn Syria, its first military engagement outside the former Soviet Union since the occupation of Afghanistan in 1979. Russian warplanes carried out strikes in three Syrian provinces along with regime aircraft as Putin seeks to steal US President Barack Obama's thunder by pushing a rival plan to defeat Isis militants in Syria
The recapture by Syrian government forces of the city, known to Syrians as the "Bride of the Desert", represents a significant blow to Isis.
Experts are set to begin assessing the scale of the damage done to the 2,000-year-old ruins, with many famous monuments known to have been destroyed.
Mr Johnson wrote that while the regime itself was "evil", "the victory of Assad is a victory for archaeology, a victory for all those who care about the ancient monuments of one of the most amazing cultural sites on earth".
He said: "It is alas very hard to claim that the success of the Assad forces is a result of any particular British or indeed western policy.
"How could it be? We rightly loathe his regime and what it stands for, and for the last few years we have been engaged in an entirely honourable mission to build an opposition to Assad that was not composed simply of Daesh.
"That effort has not worked, not so far. It has been Putin who with a ruthless clarity has come to the defence of his client, and helped to turn the tide.
"If reports are to be believed, the Russians have not only been engaged in air strikes against Assad's opponents, but have been seen on the ground as well."
A replica of the destroyed gateway of the Temple of Bel is due to be raised in Trafalgar Square next month in a show of solidarity with Palmyra.
"I hope it will also be a sign of our British determination to be useful in the reconstruction of the country," Mr Johnson wrote.