Why Russia did not respond to the US strikes on Syria

Leonid Issaev | Al Jazeera News |

Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened “instant retaliation” to attacks on Russia during his state of the nation speech in early March [File photo: Sergei Ilnitsky/Reuters]
Despite its hostile rhetoric, Russia has taken care to avoid confrontation on the ground in Syria.

After a week of rhetorical escalation between the US and Russia – much of it conducted on Twitter – missile strikes on Syria were finally carried out on Saturday. US, UK and French forces launched attacks on three sites allegedly linked to the production of chemical weapons near Damascus, as well as in the province of Homs.

Despite the pathos with which US President Donald Trump announced the military operation, its result turned out to be less than modest. Putting aside the contradictory reports on how many missiles struck their intended targets, they did not cause any military casualties and failed to inflict any serious damage on Syrian military infrastructure. Compared to the recent Israeli air raid on the T-4 base, the result of the April 14 strikes seems rather insignificant.

In this sense, the US, UK and French strikes were no different from the military action in April 2017, when after the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, the US bombed regime-operated Shayrat airfield.

The difference this year was that Washington blamed not only the Syrian regime for the chemical attack but also its patron, Moscow. This gave the situation a higher degree of tension, increasing speculations about a direct clash between the US and Russia.

Direct confrontation was predictably avoided, and the whole operation seemed to be no more than a “performance”.

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Source: Al Jazeera News | News Now|

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