If Donald Trump is in cahoots with the Russian government, it certainly isn’t showing.
Last night in retaliation to a chemical attack on civilians believed to be carried out by the Assad regime in Syria, Donald Trump launched airstrikes on Syria. Fifty-nine Tomahawk missile were sent to destroy an airfield located where the Syrian government allegedly launched their attack. Ironically, it was Hillary Clinton who called on the U.S. to carry out airstrikes on Syrian airfields just hours before the attack took place – while Trump had remained completely opposed to any intervention in Syria until last night.
Russia is backing the Assad regime, thus the narrative that Trump’s foreign policy is nothing like Hillary’s, and that Trump is an agent of Russia, collapsed simultaneously last night.
However, Russia just upped the ante.
According to The Telegraph, Russia will reinforce Syrian air defenses and is sending a missile carrying warship to the eastern Mediterranean in response to a US cruise missile strikes on a Syrian government airbase.
“To protect key Syrian infrastructure a range of measures will be taken reinforce and improve the effectiveness of the Syrian armed forces air defense,” the Russian ministry of defense said in a statement on Friday morning.
Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said President Donald Trump’s decision to directly target the Syrian regime inflicted further “considerable damage” to ties between the former Cold War foes.
“This step by Washington inflicts considerable damage to US-Russia relations, which are already in a lamentable state,” he said.
Mr Peskov said President Vladimir Putin, a staunch ally of Bashar al-Assad, regarded the US action as “aggression against a sovereign nation” on a “made-up pretext” and a cynical attempt to distract the world from civilian deaths in Iraq.
Comment by the Presidential Press Service on the situation in Syria https://t.co/sRmVRThMP4
— President of Russia (@KremlinRussia_E) April 7, 2017
Moscow then called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the airstrikes – and suspended its air safety agreement with the US in response to the strikes. The agreement was signed in October 2015 and was created to avoid clashes in the airspace over Syria, with each party giving the other warning ahead of planned strikes. A spokesman for Russia’s ministry of defense, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov called the airstrikes a “grave violation” of the agreement.
In October of 2016 Russia warned that it would intercept any missiles targeting Syrian forces, but they do not appear to have made an effort to intercept the aforementioned Tomahawk missiles in last night’s strike.
While everyone is portraying last night’s airstrike as the entry of the U.S. into a war in Syria, the strikes were likely a one-off attack to signal that the U.S. wouldn’t tolerate the atrocities the Syrian government is committing. In all likelihood, the worst case scenario here is that it’ll be Republicans finding themselves complaining about Russian hackers in the 2020 election.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]