A senior Russian lawmaker says that a U.S. strike on Syria could trigger a direct military clash between Russia and the United States.
Vladimir Shamanov, a retired general who heads the defense affairs committee in the lower house of parliament, said in televised remarks Tuesday that a U.S. strike in Syria could hurt Russian servicemen and trigger Russian retaliation.
He said that Russia has “the necessary means for that and the Americans and their allies know that quite well.”
Shamanov emphasized that a retaliatory Russian strike could target U.S. Navy ships and aircraft. He added that the use of nuclear weapons is “unlikely.”
The president’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, urged President Donald Trump to skip his trip to South America this week because of the ongoing crisis in Syria. The White House announced Tuesday that he would do so.
This reflects a view in the White House that deeper Russian and Iranian involvement in Syria have complicated calculations about a response to any U.S. military attack. That’s according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.
Moscow has cautioned the U.S. not to launch a military attack.
President Donald Trump says the U.S. has many military options as it decides how to respond to an apparent poison gas attack in central Syria that killed more than 40 people.
In remarks Monday night as he met with military leaders at the White House, Trump suggested a military strike against Syria was imminent. He warned that Russia or any other nation found to share responsibility in the attack will “pay a price.”
The U.S. military appeared to be in position to carry out any attack order. A Navy destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, was underway in the eastern Mediterranean. It’s armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, the weapon of choice in a U.S. attack one year ago on an airfield in Syria following an alleged sarin gas attack on civilians.