Russia on Friday slammed the U.S. decision to launch airstrikes against a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government, calling the military action a “clear act of aggression” that would “further undermine Russo-American relations.”
The harsh words came from Russia’s foreign ministry, which lambasted President Trump‘s decision to send in 59 tomahawk missiles against a Syrian government air base the U.S. says was the origin of Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack by forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which left scores dead in Idlib.
“The presence itself of military personnel from the U.S. and other countries on the territory of Syria without the permission of the government of that country or a resolution of the U.N. Security Council is a gross, clear and in now way justified violation of international law,” the Russian foreign ministry said. “If before it was explained as a mission in the battle against terrorism, now it is a clear act of aggression against a sovereign Syria. The taking of these actions by the U.S. today yet further undermines Russo-American relations.”
Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin regarded the strike “as aggression against a sovereign nation” that was carried out “in violation of international law, and also under an invented pretext.”
The Russian foreign ministry said it was calling for an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting and that it was suspending its current memorandum of understanding with the U.S. military meant to avoid air incidents.
Both the Russian and U.S. militaries have a large air presence in the country — Russia in support of Assad and the U.S. until now to launch attacks against ISIS — and have established so-called “de-confliction” channels to avoid accidental incidents between the two nations.
The Russian foreign ministry also suggested that the U.S. decision to attack Syria was made in advance of Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack in Idlib, calling it “a pretext for a demonstration of force.”