Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been butting heads with the US over Syria, said Wednesday that although rising tensions in a “chaotic world” have been causing anxiety, he hopes that “common sense will prevail.”
While Putin did not mention Donald Trump, his comments came just hours after the US president warned that “nice and new” missiles would be heading to Syria and that its ally Moscow should “get ready.”
Speaking to new ambassadors at the Kremlin, Putin said that “the state of world affairs cannot but cause anxiety. The situation in the world is becoming all the more chaotic.
“Nonetheless, we hope that common sense will prevail and international relations will go on a constructive course, that all the world’s systems will become more stable and predictable,” he continued
Trump had tweeted earlier that Russia shouldn’t be allied with a “Gas Killing Animal,” a reference to Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose regime is accused of killing dozens of people in a suspected chemical attack on rebel-held Douma over the weekend.
He also vowed that “smart” missiles “will be coming.”
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!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
Trump’s threats of retaliatory military action prompted a slew of Russian comments that warned that US strikes could trigger direct military clash between the two former Cold War adversaries.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, in a Facebook post Wednesday, wondered if the chemical weapons watchdog investigating the reports of the attack on Douma had been warned that US missiles would destroy “all evidence” of the attack.
Tass quoted Zakharova as saying, “Smart missiles must strike terrorists, not the legitimate government that has been fighting international terrorism on its territory for several years.”
A top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also appeared to respond to Trump’s threats, telling state TV that Tehran would support Damascus against any “foreign aggression.”
“We will stand by Syria’s government against any foreign aggression … Iran backs Syria in its fight against America and the Zionist Regime (Israel),” Ali Akbar Velayati said.
Assad has been bracing for an American strike in response to the suspected chemical attack. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group reported that pro-government forces were evacuating major airports and military airbases.
The Syrian foreign ministry described the US threats to attack it as “reckless,” saying it would endanger international peace and security.
Russian’s foreign ministry said that Washington was using the alleged chemical attack as a pretext to target Syria, and that the threats were hindering the government’s efforts to fight “terrorism.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia was seeking “unbiased investigation before delivering verdicts,” the Tass news agency reported.
Addressing the possibility of a US strike, he added, “I want to hope that all countries will avoid steps which essentially haven’t been sparked by anything and which may destabilize the fragile situation in the region.”
The Russian state news agencies RIA Novosti and Tass meanwhile reported that a high-level Russian delegation arrived in Syria, where it was going to meet with Assad.
The agencies said the Russian delegation included the governor of an oil-rich Siberian region and that several lawmakers had arrived earlier on Wednesday.
Tass, in a news story out of the northern Syria city of Homs, quoted lawmaker Dmitry Sablin refuting reports that Assad may have fled Syria. Sablin said Assad is in Damascus and was going to meet the Russian delegation.