Last night’s surprise White House statement warning Syria against a chemical weapons attack was quickly condemned by Russian officials today, who insisted that there was no reason to think that chemical weapons might be about to be used.
Moreover, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia considered the White House statement a threat against the legitimate leadership of the Syrian government, and marked a continuation of the US instigating violence against that government.
The White House statement was conspicuous in lacking specifics about what Syria was actually going to do and how they would know that, instead centering mostly on a prediction of innocent children being killed and a threat to make Syria “pay a heavy price.”
The timing is particularly bad, as this statement was made mere hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were speaking about a ceasefire, and this clearly didn’t come up. To be fair to Tillerson, it’s likely he didn’t know about it in the first place at the time, as the White House appears to have manufactured the entire statement with little to know contact with the rest of the government.
Either way, this is yet another Russian effort to start a ceasefire bid which got immediately derailed by the Trump Administration, which doubtless is a recurring theme that’s getting pretty tiresome for them.