The day after a missile strike on a Syrian airfield, Russia is moving warships towards the U.S. Navy destroyers responsible for the attack and announced the suspension of a communication designed the stop the collision of U.S. and Russian aircraft over Syria.
“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,” Putin’s spokesman said Friday.
This came as U.S. defense officials told reporters that they are investigating claims of Russian complicity in the chemical strike earlier this week. The U.S. has blamed Syria for the attack, world leaders, such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have called for an investigation into the incident.
CNN reported that defense officials said a Russian aviation unit was at the base where the chemical attack was launched, but they don’t know yet whether Russia was involved. The officials added that those Russians at the airfield would have known about missions being flown out of the base.
The airfield was attacked by Tomahawk missiles launched from U.S. Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea.
Fox News reported Friday that Russian naval destroyers are headed towards those ships. Russia also announced that starting on April 8 a program designed to stop the collision of American and Russian aircraft will be suspended.
The tension between the two nations also played out at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, as Russia’s deputy ambassador to the U.N. Vladimir Safronkov said, “the aggression by the U.S. has only facilitated the strengthening of terrorism.” The Daily Caller reported Friday that several radical Islamic groups indeed cheered on the Trump administration’s action and have called for more strikes.
The Russian envoy went on to call U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley’s recent speech holding photos of dead Syrian children “cynical,” and said that Russia wouldn’t stoop to the level of displaying photographs of civilians dead in Mosul, Iraq from American-coalition airstrikes.
Nikki Haley responded to Safronkov by saying that Assad “thought he could get away with [the chemical attack]” because “Russia had his back.”
She said that the U.S. was “fully justified” and that the “moral stain of the Assad regime could no longer go unanswered.” Haley said that Assad wasn’t the only guilty party involved in the attack, and claimed that both Iran and Russia bear responsibility. The UN envoy said people should “think about” the fact that Russia was supposed to have removed all the chemical weapons from Syria.
Haley closed out her address saying the U.S. is “prepared to do more” and that this is the start of a “new phase,” in which Assad must step down through the political process.