MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has 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.
In a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, Mr Putin and Mr Rouhani agreed the Western strikes had damaged the chances of achieving a political resolution in the seven-year Syria conflict, according to a Kremlin statement.
The strikes launched by the US, UK and France against Syria have seriously damaged the Syrian peace process, Russian Putin said. If such actions continue, it would have grave consequences for the world, he said.
“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 Kremlin statement said.
The warnings come as US President Donald Trump’s aides announced plans for new economic sanctions against Russia for enabling the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The two leaders exchanged their views on the situation in Syria after the massive missile strike launched by the US, the UK and France that targeted Syria’s military and civilian infrastructure. Both presidents denounced the actions of the Western states by calling them an “illegal” act that was deleterious to the Syrian peace process.
Earlier, the Russian president condemned the strikes by saying that Washington launched “an aggression against a sovereign state which is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism.”
Putin, at that time, said that the attack was carried out in violation of the ‘principles of international law,’ as it was not authorized by the UN Security Council.
The US, the UK and France launched 103 cruise missiles during the attack. At least 71 of them were intercepted by Syrian air defense forces, according to the data from the Russian Defense Ministry.
Following the attack, Russia called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the aggressive actions of the US and its allies.
Syria ‘accidentally shot down’ Russian spy plane during Israeli attack
Russia’s defence ministry said one of its military surveillance aircraft with 14 people on board disappeared from radar screens over the Mediterranean at the same time as Israeli and French forces were mounting aerial attacks on targets in Syria.
“Connection has been lost with the crew of a Russian Il-20 plane over the Mediterranean Sea,” the ministry said. Contact was lost at about 23:00 local time (20:00 GMT) on Monday, it added.
There are conflicting reports as to who is responsible for the downing of the aircraft, however the US claims it was accidentally shot down by the Syrian regime’s anti-aircraft artillery after the Syrians came under fire by Israeli missiles.
A US official said Washington believed the aircraft, the turbo-prop plane used for electronic reconnaissance, was inadvertently shot down by anti-aircraft artillery operated by Moscow’s ally, the Syrian Government.
Russsia’s Defence Ministry said the aircraft was returning to the Russian-run Hmeymim airbase in Latakia province when it disappeared from radar screens at about 11:00pm Moscow time.
The plane was over the Mediterranean Sea about 35 kilometres from the Syrian coastline, Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.
The fate of the 14 people on board the missing plane is unknown, and a rescue operation has been organised out of the Hmeymim base, the ministry said.