Russian officials on Friday warned of “consequences” after President Trump announced his approval of U.S.-led military strikes in Syria against the Russian-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Immediately following Trump’s address to the nation, loud explosions and thick smoke were reported in the Syrian capital city, Damascus.
“The worst apprehensions have come true,” Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., wrote in a tweet. “Our warnings have been left unheard.
“A pre-designed scenario is being implemented,” Antonov said. “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,” he said. “The U.S.—the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons—has no moral right to blame other countries.”
“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.”
- Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia's Foreign Ministry, denounced the U.S. in a Facebook post for the strikes on Syria, a country that, she wrote, “for many years has been trying to survive terrorist aggression."
"The White House stated that its assuredness of the chemical attack from Damascus was based on 'mass media, reports of symptoms, video, photos as well as credible information,'” she wrote. “After this statement the American and other Western mass media should understand their responsibility in what is happening."
Russia and the U.S. had disagreed over a proper response in Syria after a suspected chemical attack by the regime last weekend in rebel-held Douma, a town about 10 miles east of Damascus, killed at least 40 people and injured more than 500, mostly women and children. The attack occurred amid a resumed offensive by Syrian government forces after the collapse of a truce.
Earlier Friday, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, told reporters in Moscow that the claims of the suspected gas attack were a fabrication.
"Intelligence agencies of a state that is now striving to spearhead a Russo-phobic campaign were involved in that fabrication," Lavrov said, without elaborating or naming the state.
A Russian lawmaker claimed the strikes were aimed at disrupting the work of international investigators looking into whether Syria used chemical weapons in the town of Douma.
"The airstrikes were carried out by the U.S.-led coalition consciously to spoil the investigation," Russian parliament member Dmitry Sablin was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
Alexander Sherin, deputy head of the State Duma's defense committee, likened Trump to Adolf Hitler, and considered the strikes to be a move against Russia.
Trump "can be called Adolf Hitler No. 2 of our time — because, you see, he even chose the time that Hitler attacked the Soviet Union," state news agency RIA-Novosti quoted Sherin as saying.
The strike came hours after Trump’s U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, told an emergency meeting of the Security Council that "the United States estimates that Assad has used chemical weapons in the Syrian war at least 50 times."
“Did a chemical weapons attack happen? Yes,” Haley told reporters before the meeting. “The U.S. has analyzed, yes, it has happened. The U.K. has analyzed, yes, it has happened. France analyzed, yes, it has happened. Three separate analysis all coming back with same thing. There is proof that this happened.”
Haley said during the meeting that should the U.S. and its allies decide to act in Syria, it would in the defense of "a bedrock international norm that benefits all nations" from the use of chemical weapons.