On the verge of isolation: how has the situation in Russia after the US air strike

On the verge of isolation: how has the situation in Russia after the US air strike

On Friday, April 7, on the orders of Donald trump the U.S. Navy ships located in the Mediterranean sea, released 59 cruise missiles “Tomahawk” at the air base by Syrian government forces in HOMS province.

A few hours before hitting the US President said that considering the use of military force in response to the use of chemical weapons against the civilian population, responsibility for which Washington accused the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. April 4 at the town of Khan Shaykhun in the Syrian province of Idlib were dropped several bombs, including with poison gas (presumably sarin), which killed 86 people, including 30 children and 20 women, according to Syrian monitoring centre for human rights (SOHR). Up to this point, trump has opposed military intervention in the Syrian conflict.

Useless Memorandum

Washington’s actions in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin called an act of aggression inconsistent with international law, said in comments to the press-service of the Kremlin. The Russian defense Ministry suspended cooperation with the us military in the framework of the Memorandum on the prevention of incidents in the skies over Syria, reported the official representative of the Ministry Igor Konashenkov. The Memorandum was signed in 2015. In accordance with the Ministry of defence of the USA has warned Russia about the impending strike on 7 April. After the impact, the meaning of the Memorandum “has been lost,” explained the press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov. He noted that “the channels [of communication] technologically remain, but the exchange of information will not occur”.

Withdrawal is a predictable, but important step, said the chief editor of the magazine “Russia in global politics” Fyodor Lukyanov. “When two powerful military powers carry out operations in the same area without any coordination, it is extremely risky,” he says.

The Russian defense Ministry has warned that it will be prepared and a military response. The website Bosphorus Observer, which tracks the passage of warships through the Turkish Straits, 7 April reported that the frigate “Admiral Grigorovich” was released in the Mediterranean sea to return to the operative connection of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean sea.

Issues related to the continued operation of the Russian space forces in Syria were discussed at the meeting of the Russian security Council. But in the state Duma do not see the need to expand the Russian military presence after the U.S. airstrike, said the first Deputy Chairman of the Committee on defense Andrei Krasov (“United Russia”).

At the operational meeting of Russian security Council with the participation of President Putin had “expressed regret at the damage to the bilateral Russian-American relations”. Despite the fact that they, according to Peskov, already in poor condition.

Missed opportunities

The actions of the US, Russian officials explained several reasons. According to Peskov, President Putin saw the attacks on Syria attempts to distract attention from the numerous victims among the civilian population in Iraq. The Chairman of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko stated that hundreds of civilians became victims of the actions of the United States air force. Trump has made a decision on military strikes based on the information that the US itself created against the President of Syria Bashar al-Assad, said the Chairman of the Duma Committee on education Vyacheslav Nikonov. The U.S. attack on Syria would hamper the development of Russian-American dialogue, especially on the eve of visit to Moscow US state Secretary Rex Tillerson, warned Nikonov.

The first visit of the new Secretary of state in Russia is scheduled for 11-12 April. Sources reported that in Moscow he will meet with Vladimir Putin. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow does not know about any changes in the program, said the representative of the Embassy Maria Olson, the Agency “Interfax”.

Relations between the Kremlin and the White house can deteriorate before it starts, warns the expert of the Moscow Carnegie center Andrei Kolesnikov. “Obviously, that is changing the paradigm, trump for sure, “Nash”, and that Moscow was not ready, so there is some confusion. Now, trump can not be friends”, — said Kolesnikov. In his opinion, the US airstrike on Syria is associated with the falling rating of trump.

After the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg on 3 April, trump called Putin, and they reaffirmed the need for joint fight against terrorism; the attack on the Syrian airfield will freeze Russian-us cooperation in this direction for many months, involves scientific Director of the German-Russian forum Alexander Rahr. Now the meeting between the two leaders is unlikely to happen before July, when in Hamburg there will pass a meeting of “twenty”, and for the remaining three months relations between the two countries may further deteriorate, does not rule out PAP.

Russia and the United States should maintain cooperation need a political strategy that will consider the figure of Bashar al-Assad as a factor of stability in Syria, and America, it should accept, says Brookings Institution scholar Michael O’hanlon.

“The Kremlin seems to be no concrete assurance that the Syrian leadership is not privy to the gas attacks, and thus to expect an immediate military response now or in the next few days I would not — said the expert of the Russian Council on international Affairs Maxim Suchkov. — The best option after such a crisis would be to form a Commission to investigate and create all the conditions for an objective investigation of the incident and then make decisions, but a cool head. If the fault proved to be Assad’s, Russia should be included in the appropriate process.”

Limited insulation

Most of the leading countries of the world actions trump support. The solidarity expressed by the governments of Britain, France, Germany, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “President Assad is the sole responsibility of development. Repeated use of chemical weapons and crimes against the civilian population demanded sanctions. Germany and France call on the international community to work together on a political process in Syria,” — said in a joint statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande. Supported the actions of the American ally and to visit Russia March 9, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Supported the actions of the US and Turkey, which together with Russia and Iran is the guarantor of the armistice in Syria, announced in late 2016. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who talks in the Kremlin on March 10, Putin claimed that relations between the two countries were normalized, called the U.S. attack a “positive event”, and President Assad is a war criminal.

Condemned the actions of the United States, along with Russia, Iran and China. “These measures reinforce the terrorists in Syria and complicate the situation in Syria and the whole region”, — said the representative of the foreign Ministry of Iran Bahram ghasemi. Beijing called on all parties to remain calm and restraint, said Hua Chunying, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign Ministry.

Before the strike was to conduct an independent investigation of what happened in Idlib, said the candidate for the French presidency, marine Le Pen. Solidarity with this position was expressed by the leader of the opposition of the British labour party Jeremy Corbyn. The leaders of the CIS countries, the crisis with Russia has traditionally not commented.

Gets whether Russia is in international isolation, depends on Chinese leader XI Jinping, who on 6 and 7 April were in Florida for talks with trump, says Alexander Rahr. The world is still bipolar, anxious, as it can lead to further clashes, he said. The only ally of Russia becomes Iran, Russia is once again left alone, but the operation in Syria was conceived in order to reduce isolation, says the orientalist Grigory Melamed.

Dire predictions

President trump in his address to the nation wasn’t talking about whether or not to continue the attack. The UK does not consider a strike in Syria as the beginning of the military campaign, said the Minister of defense Michael Fallon.

USA showed that they were in the middle East, the main and spend the majority political line, says analyst-the Arabist, Alexander Sotnichenko. “I don’t think trump will declare that it is necessary to overthrow President Assad. But the creation of a unified Syria, which would somehow allied with Iran and Russia, as things were before, impossible now,” — said the analyst. In his words, “clearly a signal that Assad and ISIS (an organization banned in Russia), America and Europe are now one and the same.”

With the position of the trump coincide the interests of Turkey, says a senior researcher of the Institute of Oriental studies Alexander Vassiliev. According to him, Turkey is interested in continuing the military operation in Syria, as its own operation “shield of the Euphrates”, directed against the militants of the “Islamic state” and Kurdish units in the North of Syria, did not bring the expected results. “For Russia, this creates additional risks. Erdogan may trigger the escalation of clashes of Pro-government forces and the opposition in particular and in the province of Hama,” writes Vasiliev.

Despite calls for trump to continue the operation, the American attack was unlikely to open intervention, considers the orientalist Grigory Melamed. “In the case of open intervention, the US would have to fight on two fronts — to complete the operation against ISIS and to fight Assad army”, — says the expert. He noted that trump has always opposed the use of American ground connections in the middle East. Attack cruise missiles may become the reason for the formation of long-term Alliance against Iran. “It can formally or informally, to join the Arabian monarchies and Turkey, and Israel, and the Salafi movement, which, unlike the “Muslim brotherhood” (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) uncompromising attitude to the Shia and Iranian expansion,” lists Melamed.

Erupted after the attack, the crisis creates opportunities for “losing party” in Syria — and that the wide range of interested players as soon as possible to solve their own political problems, says Maxim Suchkov. Wanting to transform the current state of the conflict into a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia is more than enough, he says.

With the participation of Angelica Bassini, Anna Agapova, George Makarenko