Trump tells Russia: get ready, smart missiles on way

‘Get ready Russia because they will be coming,’ American president says
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump warned Russia Wednesday to brace for American engagement in Syria after a suspected chemical attack killed dozens of people.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'” Trump said on Twitter.
“You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” he added, referring to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.
The comments followed a warning from Moscow that the risk of a direct Russia-U.S. military clash in Syria “is higher than before”, with a Russian envoy saying that U.S. missiles flying over the war-ravaged country would be shot down.
In a second tweet, Trump said the U.S.-Russian relationship “is worse now than it has ever been”.
“There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?” Trump said.
He later blamed much of the deterioration in ties on a “Fake & Corrupt” probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s alleged attempts to influence the 2016 presidential race and the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the effort.
The probe, he claimed in a third tweet, is being led by “Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all.”
The investigation has been a constant focus of ire for the American president, particularly after it referred a case to the Justice Department which then raided the workplace and hotel of Trump’s long-standing personal lawyer, Michael Cohen on Monday. The raids sought documents on payments to two women who claimed affairs with Trump, according to reports.
The American president vowed Monday to take action within two days following a suspected chemical attack in Syria’s Douma city, saying the public would “probably” be made aware of any retaliation “after the fact”.
Trump’s comments are at odds with criticism he issued in 2013 of then-President Barack Obama in which he questioned the wisdom of talking about possible military action in Syria before it is carried out.
“Why do we keep broadcasting when we are going to attack Syria? Why can’t we just be quiet and, if we attack at all, catch them by surprise?” he said on Twitter.
– ‘Pentagon stands ready’
Speaking at a joint news conference with Dutch Minister of Defense Ank Bijleveld on Wednesday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis also said the Pentagon stood ready to provide military options as Trump determines.
The White House later said diplomacy could still be a possible recourse to ending the stand-off along with “a lot of other options”.
“We’re still considering a number of those and a final decision on that front has not been made,” spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.
She further maintained “Russia holds some responsibility in the fact that they guaranteed that Syria wouldn’t use chemical weapons again, and they did,” also noting Russia’s use of its veto at the UN Security Council to provide the Assad regime with diplomatic cover.
“Both of those things lie at Russia’s feet in terms of responsibility in this process,” she said.
– ‘Pay a price’
Trump said earlier this week that anyone responsible for the attack, including Russia, will “pay a price,” and has cancelled a planned trip to Latin America to oversee the U.S. response.
“If it’s the Russians, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out,” he said on Monday.
The White Helmets, a civil defense agency, blamed the Assad regime for the attack outside of Damascus, which it said killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of others.
Russia on Tuesday vetoed a UN Security Council draft text that would have established a new expert body to determine culpability for the suspected chemical attack in Syria.
The U.S. draft resolution had the overwhelming support of the council with 12 members of the 15-member council voting in favor, and only two — Russia and Bolivia — voting against. China abstained.
Tuesday’s veto is Russia’s twelfth of council resolutions seeking to hold the Assad regime accountable for rights violations. Six of those resolutions would have condemned the regime for chemical weapons attacks.
Trump has been engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activity, calling his French and British counterparts to discuss the response to the alleged chemical attack and discussing the matter in person with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the White House on Tuesday.
Trump and al-Thani “discussed Iranian and Russian malign influence, including the role Iran and Russia play to enable the Assad regime’s atrocities; the threat Iran and Russia pose to regional stability; and ways to increase cooperation between the United States and Qatar on these issues,” the White House said.–AA

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