“Russia has really aligned itself with the Assad regime, the Iranians and Hezbollah,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today at a press conference in Italy, where he is attending a meeting of the G7 nations. “Is that a long-term alliance that serves the Russians’ interest? Or would Russia prefer to realign with the United States, with other Western countries, and Middle East countries who are seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis?”
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to reporters about Syria before Tillerson arrived in Moscow for a much-anticipated visit. “We say that this resembles very much the situation of 2003 and the war in Iraq,” Putin said today during a press conference in Moscow. “First of all, there was a campaign launched in Iraq and it finished with the destruction of the country, the growth of the terrorist threat and the emergence of [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] on the international arena.” Putin also claimed, without evidence, that there are plans to fake the use of chemical weapons in Syria. “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],” he said alongside Italian President Sergio Mattarella during the latter’s visit to Moscow. Putin added Russia possesses information that the U.S. planning to launch new missile strikes in Syria less than one week after the April 7 attack against Shayrat Air Base near the Syrian city of Homs.
Tillerson just arrived in Moscow for what promises to be a difficult series of scheduled talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. While tensions between the two nations have been high in recent years, a chemical weapons attack carried out against civilians last Tuesday led to military action against Bashar al Assad’s Syrian regime ordered by President Trump’s administration on Thursday. Russia, Assad’s most powerful ally, made clear their feelings on the event, calling it illegal under international law and doubling down on their support for the Syrian government in the world’s media.
Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have spiked in the past few days over the attack on Syria, and the deployment of a U.S. Navy strike group to the Korean peninsula.
Trump wrote in one tweet, “I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!”
He added four minutes later, “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”
China in response sends 150,000 troops to the North Korean border. An unnamed foreign ministry spokesman said “reckless moves for invading had reached a serious phase. We never beg for peace but we will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep the road chosen by ourselves,” he said in a statement to the KCNA news agency.
What will happen next? Tune in to find out.