President Trump on Wednesday issued a stern warning to Russia, tweeting that he will direct an air strike at Syria in response to last week’s chemical attack and chastising the Kremlin for its support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “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!”
Trump added: “Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?”
Russia’s military has propped up Assad’s regime as it wages a multiway war against both the so-called Islamic State and various antigovernment forces. According to the UN Envoy for Syria, an estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed since 2011.
The Russian foreign ministry responded in a Facebook post, saying “smart missiles should fly toward terrorists, not legal government.”
Trump has been weighing U.S. military options in Syria in the wake of Saturday’s chemical attack that killed at least 40 people. But during a meeting with national security officials at the White House earlier this week, Trump told reporters he would not publicly telegraph his moves — something he criticized former President Barack Obama for doing.
“We’re making decisions as to what we do with respect to the horrible attack,” Trump said Monday. “And it will be met. And it will be met forcefully. When I will not say because I don’t like talking about timing.”
Last week, the White House announced that the U.S. military mission in Syria “is coming to a rapid end.” That was before Saturday’s attack.
Trump lashed out at Russia and Iran for its support of Assad the next day — notably calling out Russian President Vladimir Putin by name.
“President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad,” Trump tweeted. “Big price to pay.”