Clearly, one of the most unknown outcomes to the U.S. response to Syria’s chemical weapon atrocities is how Russia will respond. The United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha’irat late Thursday. President Donald Trump said the attack was a response to the chemical weapon use in Idlib on Tuesday. We are beginning to get a glimpse at the Russian outrage. “The United States’ missile strikes on a military airfield in Syria violates international law and represents an act of aggression against a sovereign state under a far-fetched pretext, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday. He then specifically spoke for the Russian president, “President [Vladimir] Putin regards the US attacks on Syria as an aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law, and under a trumped-up pretext at that,” Pesov told reporters.
Russia seems to stand firmly on the idea that the chemical weapons were not delivered by the Syrian regime but by terrorists. The Russians stated that The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that Syrian armed forced do not possess chemical weapons. And they warned regarding the consequences of ignoring the terrorist use of such weapons. “The fact of the destruction of all chemical weapons stockpiles has been recorded and confirmed by the OPCW, a specialized UN unit,” Peskov told reporters. “At the same time, in Putin’s opinion, total disregard for the use of chemical weapons by terrorists only drastically aggravates the situation,” Peskov said.
On Friday, Russia froze a critical agreement on military cooperation with the United States in Syria. They warned that the operation would “further corrode already dismal relations between Moscow and Washington.” In addition to freezing this agreement that was intended to prevent accidental encounters between the two militaries, Russia has indicated that it would now build up Syria’s air defense systems. The Russians also have sent a naval destroyer class ship to the area where the missiles were launch.
Maybe Russia’s most outlandish claim is that the United States invented the chemical weapon story so that they could launch this attack as a distraction from the high number of civilian casualties caused by a recent American airstrike in Mosul, Iraq.
The decisive action comes with a consequence. All eyes will be on how Russia reacts in the coming days. The initial response is certainly cause for concern. What do you think about how Russia is responding?