After the a joint force of US, French and UK fighter jets and ship launched an attack which as Mattis said, “used a little over double the number of weapons this year than we used last year”, and amid unconfirmed reports that the Syrian air force managed to shoot down one or more Tomahawk missiles, the question everyone was asking is whether Russia has responded, and if so, how.
The answer, for now at least, is that Russia has not activated a response, although that may soon change. Here is the statement from Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anataloy Antonov, posted on Facebook:
“The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left unheard.
A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.
All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.
Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.
The U.S. – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame other countries.”
Despite repeated warnings from Russia, President Trump ordered American forces, along with their British and French allies, to strike military targets in Syria on Friday night; as noted previously, during a press conference late on Friday, General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Russian military operating in Syria was not notified about the American targets in advance told reporters following the attacks.
The US “specifically identified” targets to “mitigate the risk of Russian forces being involved,” Dunford said. “We used the normal deconfliction channel to deconflict airspace. We did not coordinate targets.”
While Trump said that the purpose of the US actions is to “establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons,” Antonov reminded that “the US – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame other countries.”
The combined decision by the US and its allies to strike Syria comes after Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Major-General Igor Konashenkov presented evidence claiming that last Saturday’s alleged chemical attack in Douma was orchestrated.
The attack also comes just hours before experts from the UN Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were scheduled to visit Douma on Saturday to determine whether chemical weapons had indeed been used there. That particular trip is now moot.