Date
23 July 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin said if Western attacks on Syria continued, it would inevitably lead to chaos in international relations. Photo: Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin said if Western attacks on Syria continued, it would inevitably lead to chaos in international relations. Photo: Reuters

Putin warns of global ‘chaos’ as US prepares new sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that further Western attacks on Syria would bring chaos to world affairs, as Washington prepared to increase pressure on Russia with new economic sanctions, Reuters reports.

In a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Sunday, Putin and Rouhani agreed that the Western strikes had damaged the chances of achieving a political resolution in the seven-year Syria conflict, the news agency said, citing a Kremlin statement.

“Vladimir Putin, in particular, stressed that if such actions committed in violation of the UN Charter continue, then it will inevitably lead to chaos in international relations,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told CBS’ Face the Nation program that the United States would announce new economic sanctions on Monday aimed at companies “that were dealing with equipment” related to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged chemical weapons use.

On Saturday, the US, France and Britain launched 105 missiles targeting what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities in Syria in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in Douma on April 7.

The Western countries blame Assad for the Douma attack that killed dozens of people. The Syrian government and its ally Russia have denied involvement in any such attack.

The bombings marked the biggest intervention by Western countries against Assad and ally Russia.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that he had convinced Trump, who has previously said he wanted to take US forces out of Syria, to stay for “the long term”.

The US, France and Britain have said the missile strikes were limited to Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities and not aimed at toppling Assad or intervening in the civil war.

Macron said in an interview broadcast by BFM TV, RMC radio and Mediapart online news that he had convinced Trump to focus on the chemical weapons sites.

We’re ready for new sanctions: Moscow

Responding to Haley’s remarks about the plans for new sanctions, Evgeny Serebrennikov, deputy head of the defense committee of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said Moscow was ready for the penalties, according to RIA news agency.

“They are hard for us, but will do more damage to the USA and Europe,” RIA quoted Serebrennikov as saying.

In Damascus, Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, met inspectors from the global chemical weapons watchdog OPCW for about three hours in the presence of Russian officers and a senior Syrian security official.

The inspectors were due to attempt to visit the Douma site. Moscow condemned the Western states for refusing to wait for the OPCW’s findings before attacking.

Mekdad declined to comment to reporters waiting outside the hotel where the meeting took place.

Assad told a group of visiting Russian lawmakers that the Western missile strikes were an act of aggression, Russian news agencies reported.

Russian agencies quoted the lawmakers as saying that Assad was in a “good mood”, had praised the Soviet-era air defense systems Syria used to repel the Western attacks and had accepted an invitation to visit Russia at an unspecified time.

Trump had said “mission accomplished” on Twitter after the strikes, though US Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie at the Pentagon acknowledged elements of the program remain and he could not guarantee that Syria would be unable to conduct a chemical attack in the future.

Russian and Iranian military help over the past three years has allowed Assad to crush the rebel threat to topple him.

Though Israel has at times urged stronger US involvement against Assad and his Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah reinforcements in Syria, it voiced backing for Saturday’s air strikes by Western powers.

Arab leaders condemn Iran ‘interference’

In Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, an Arab League summit called for an international probe into the “criminal” use of chemical weapons in Syria and condemned what it saw as Iran’s interference in the affairs of other countries, Reuters said.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have for decades been locked in a struggle for regional supremacy that is now being played out in proxy wars in several countries, including Yemen and Syria.

“We stress our absolute condemnation of the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people and we demand an independent international investigation to guarantee the application of international law against anyone proven to have used chemical weapons,” said a statement distributed to journalists on Sunday.

It emphasized the need for a political solution to the multi-sided Syrian war.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have expressed support for Saturday’s missile strikes against alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria, while Iraq and Lebanon condemned the strikes.

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CG

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