Moscow says Syria airstrike is ‘a significant blow to Russian-American relations’

The Kremlin has condemned the US’ cruise missile strike on Syria as an “aggression against a foreign state,” and deemed it broke international law.

Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday morning that the Russian president saw the attack as an “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law, and under a false pretext,” the Guardian reports.

Peskov also said that Syria had no chemical weapons and that the strikes “struck a significant blow to Russian-American relations, which were already in a sorry state.”

“Washington’s step will inflict major damage on US-Russia ties.”

He also said Putin thought the strike was an attempt to distract from civilian deaths in Iraq, according to Reuters.

The US launched 59 cruise missiles on an airfield and military infrastructure controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in response to a chemical attack that killed at least 80 people in the Idlib province earlier this week. The Tomahawk missiles were launched early on Friday morning.

US President Donald Trump, initially resistant to the idea of becoming involved in Syria, said Thursday night, “It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

Russia has now called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the matter, Viktor Ozerov, the head of the upper house of parliament’s defense and security committee said, according to Reuters.

Russia was informed of the attack before the strikes, Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said in a statement: “Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. US military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.”

No Russian citizens were reportedly hurt in the attack.

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the upper house’s international affairs committee, said on social media that “One way or another, Russian cruise missiles are continuing to strike terrorists and American ones government troops who are heading the war against the terrorists.”

“I fear that with these approaches the hoped-for US-Russian anti-terrorism coalition in Syria … is breathing its last before it is even born.”

The Syrian army accused the US of “blatant aggression” and said the strike killed six people and caused “big material losses.” The army also said it would respond by continuing to “crush terrorism.”

The Syrian opposition welcomed the strikes: “We hope for the continuation of the strikes in order to prevent the regime from using its planes to launch any new air raids or going back to using internationally banned weapons,” Ahmad Ramadan, head of the media office of the Syrian National Coalition political opposition group told Reuters.

Hasan Haj Ali, commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, which fights under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) umbrella, told Reuters the strikes came at a “very important phase” and showed that “there is still humanity in this world.”

Before the strikes, Russia’s deputy UN envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, warned of “negative consequences” if the US carried out military strikes on Syria, according to Reuters.

Asked what those negative consequences could be, Safronkov said, “Look at Iraq, look at Libya.”

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My view: As it was expected, Russian leadership is upset with the U.S. decision to conduct the strike. It would be interesting to overve the development regarding Trump – Russia investigation. It is possible that new information might be released soon.