It’s still not entirely clear what President Trump’s airstrike of Syria accomplished last week given that Russian military was warned, and they may have warned the Syrian military in turn. Even the far-right didn’t like it. However, one thing that it clearly accomplished was gaining the attention of Vladimir Putin. Soon after the tomahawk missiles struck the airfield, Putin was quick to criticize the strike as “an act of aggression.” Russian officials said that U.S.-Russian military cooperation in the region was in jeopardy and then Russia (in a joint statement with Iran) said that future military action by the U.S. in Syria would be met “with force” by the two countries.
The apparent buddy-buddy relationship between Trump and Putin received perhaps its biggest blow though when the Russian leader suggested the U.S. was framing Bashar al-Assad, or planning false-flag operations against Syria as an excuse to attack Syria. Per Reuters:
President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia had information that the United States was planning to launch new missile strikes on Syria, and that there were plans to fake chemicals weapons attacks there.
“We have information that a similar provocation is being prepared … in other parts of Syria including in the southern Damascus suburbs where they are planning to again plant some substance and accuse the Syrian authorities of using (chemical weapons).”
This theory appears to be a corollary of the idea that the initial chemical attack was a hoax. However, Putin instead cited a different historical example, saying “We have seen it all already” while making reference to the false claims of weapons of mass destruction used to invade Iraq. According to The Independent, Putin made these comments while at the same time bemoaning the fact that relations between the U.S. and Russia are at their worst since the end of the Cold War.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to arrive in Russia later Tuesday and meet with the Russian foreign minister on Wednesday. Should be an interesting meeting.