WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that the U.S. will preserve its right to self-defense in response to Russia saying it will treat American military aircraft as targets following the U.S.’ downing of a Syrian jet.
The White House spokesman added that he doesn’t believe the U.S. is on “the brink of war” with Russia. “We’re going to do what we can to protect our interests,” Spicer said.
Russia announced Monday that it will suspend its deconfliction communications line with the U.S. This line helps prevent collisions in the crowded airspace. Russia, a partner of the Syrian regime, said that its surface to air weapons systems will track U.S. aircraft
Spicer said that the U.S. will “continue to work to keep the lines of communications open.”
“ISIS represents a threat to all nations,” Trump’s press secretary added. “We have to do what we can to work with partners.”
This effort to work with partners, however, doesn’t mean that the U.S. won’t down Syrian aircraft if necessary. Spicer said the U.S. has the right to defend its coalition partners.
“The escalation of hostilities doesn’t help anybody and the Syrian regime and others in the regime need to understand that we will keep the right to self defense.”
The U.S. shot down the Syrian Su-22 jet after claiming that it was targeting opposition partners. The Syrian government maintains the jet was operating against terrorists.