MOSCOW - Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, told Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV that any rockets that threaten Russian forces in Syria “will be downed as well as the sources of those rockets.” In March, Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia’s General Staff, warned that “in the event a threat arises to the lives of our servicemen, the Armed Forces of Russia will take retaliatory measures against both missiles and the carriers that use them.”
President Donald Trump said relations with Russia are worse than they have ever been and warned the country to “get ready” because a volley of US missiles would soon be sent into Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack.
“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 wrote on Twitter. “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”
A strike that hits Russian assets in Syria -- even if unintentionally -- could result in a dangerous game of one-upmanship, potentially dragging the US further into a conflict the president wants to leave. Russia has strengthened Syria’s air-defence capabilities, deploying S-400 missile batteries after US strikes a year ago hit a Syrian base.
“The most important thing about a US strike is the potential for Russian casualties as a result of any military activity there,” said Ayham Kamel, head of Middle East and North Africa research at Eurasia Group. “That is where there’s a risk of an escalatory cycle that would be much more meaningful than attacking Assad’s forces.”