Donald Trump has warned Putin a missile strike on Syria is imminent, and Russia has pledged to shoot them down.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!”.
US President Donald Trump has told Moscow he will be striking Syria whether Russia intervenes or not, in Twitter posts on Wednesday signalling imminent Western retaliation from the West over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma over the weekend.
Trump added: “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”.
Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
It follows Russia’s veto at the UN Security Council of an independent investigation into the alleged attack, which reportedly resulted in the death of at least 40 Syrians.
Washington is accusing the Kremlin of protecting its staunch ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Trump’s allies at the Council — including UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron — first called for irrefutable evidence of the use of toxic chemicals and the perpetrators before taking retaliatory measures.
And on Wednesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) all but confirmed the use of chemical weapons, saying 43 of the dead showed “symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals”.
That may be enough for Trump.
Last year, he ordered missile strikes on a Syrian military base — the first military action against President Assad’s forces since the civil war broke out in 2011 — after an alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed more than 90 people.
‘War crime of the Western coalition’
Moscow has issued multiple warnings to the West against a strike on Syria.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Andrei Krasov, deputy chairman of the State Duma’s defence committee, as saying Russia would treat a US air strike on Syria “not just as an act of aggression but a war crime of the Western coalition”.
Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin said on Tuesday the Russian military would defend its ally by shooting down US missiles.
“If there is a US missile attack, we – in line with both Putin and Russia’s chief of staff’s remarks – will shoot down US rockets and even the sources that launched the missiles,” Zasypkin told Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV.
If there is a US missile attack, we… will shoot down US rockets and even the sources that launched the missiles.
Vladimir Shamanov, a former commander-in-chief of the Russian Airborne Troops, also vowed that Russia would take all political, diplomatic and military retaliatory measures if the US carried out any attacks in Syria.
“The politics of double standards have hit rock bottom. And here, the United Russia party conscientiously states that all political, diplomatic and military measures if necessary will be taken,” Shamanov told a plenary meeting of the State Duma.
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a calm response, stating that he hopes “common sense” will come to the fore.
“The state of world affairs invokes nothing but concerns, the situation in the world is becoming more chaotic,” Putin said on Wednesday during a ceremony to welcome new ambassadors to Russia.
“Nevertheless, we still hope that common sense will eventually prevail and international relations will enter a constructive course, the entire world system will become more stable and predictable.”