In a crucial sign that the tensions between the US and Russia emanating from the alleged chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta and the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in the UK have continued to ease, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during an interview with RIA Novosti that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump would never allow an armed confrontation between their two countries, per RT.
“Speaking about risks of a military confrontation, I am 100 percent sure that [both the US and Russian] militaries won’t allow this, and of course neither will President [Vladimir] Putin or President [Donald] Trump,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov said there have been efforts to ease the tension – specifically, the foreign minister pointed to the fact that Trump had invited his Russian counterpart to Washington during a phone call. Trump said he would “be glad to see [Putin] in the White House” and then added that he “would be happy to make a reciprocal visit [to Moscow].”
As had been widely anticipated by observers in the US and abroad, Russia no longer has any moral qualms against sharing its S-300 missile systems with the Syrian military.
Moscow had promised not to send them to Damascus 10 years ago, at the request of its partners. That’s after Syrian air defense intercepted 71 of the 103 missiles launched at three targets that the US described as crucial to Syria’s chemical weapons building capacity.
“We took into consideration their argument that this would destabilize the situation, despite the missile systems being a purely defensive system,” Lavrov said. “We heeded their calls. But now we have no such moral obligation.”
Prior to the Western bombardment, Russia had warned the US that crossing certain “red lines” in Syria would prompt retaliatory measures from Moscow, Lavrov noted. The foreign minister quoted Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov as saying that if any actions of the Western coalition affect Russian servicemen, Moscow will respond.
In another encouraging sign, Lavrov said that neither the US nor Russia had crossed certain “red lines” laid out by the other side.
For example, Russian officials had warned ahead of the bombardment that any actions by the Western coalition that harmed or killed Russian servicemen would be met with a response. Previously, Russia rebutted reports that more than 100 Russian mercenaries died in February during a US air strike as the Russian security forces were confronted a US-backed rebel group.
Trump was criticized by the US media for congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin on his latest electoral victory – despite purportedly being warned by his national security staff not to do so. Trump has raised the possibility of a Putin visit to the White House.