Following last week’s strange incident, when a US fighter jet attacked and downed a Syrian airplane on a combat mission in Syrian airspace, Russia’s deputy foreign minister described the event as an unprovoked act of aggression and support for terrorists. Also, Russia announced that starting from June 19th, all interactions with the United States military under the “memorandum of incident prevention in Syrian skies” will be halted, thereby maximizing the probability of even more deadly episodes between the US led coalition and Russia.
What’s even more worrying is the fact that the Russian ministry warned his US counterparts that any aircraft intercepted in the area where Russian Aerospace Forces are operating in Syria is prone to get intercepted and downed by Russian air and ground defense installations, Sputnik reports.
Basically, Russia suspended the hotline which was used to ensure the safety of both American and Russian aircraft flying in combat missions over Syria and also instituted something along the lines of a no-fly zone in Syria.
In areas where Russian aviation is conducting combat missions in the Syrian skies, any flying ojebcts, including jets and unmanned aerial vehicles of the international coalition discovered west of the Euphrates River will be followed by Russian air and ground defenses as air targets,“
To quote from the Russian ministry again:
“We consider such actions of the US command as an intentional violation of its obligations in the framework of the memo on avoiding incidents and the safety of aviation flights during operations in Syria signed on October 20, 2015.”
Also, the Russians contradicted the earlier statement from US officials, claiming that, let me quote:
[the US led coalition]”contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established “de-confliction line” to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing”
“Russian Aerospace Forces’ jets were conducting operations in Syrian airspace that time. However, the command of the coalition forces didn’t use the existing channel between the air command of the Qatari airbase al Udeid and the [Russian] Hmeymim airbase to avoid incidents over Syria.”
The Pentagon responded to this huge deterioration in relations between Russia and the US by saying via a spokesman that American pilots flying combat missions over Syria will defend themselves in case they’re attacked by Russia. This is Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis via WashEx:
“We are aware of the Russian statements.We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened,“
However, this guy seems to be completely unaware of the fact that shooting down a Syrian airplane operating above its own territory is precisely what “seeking conflict” looks like. White House spokesman Sean Spicer later acknowledged the United States will retain the right of self defense in Syria. Where, by the way, the US operates in complete violation of international law (not to mention our Constitution), unlike the Russians, but let that go.
Photo © Dmitriy Vinogradov / Sputnik