The Russian and Chinese governments have issued forthright statements condemning the US military strike on Syria. They have done so moreover in nearly identical terms.
The Russian criticism of the US air strike is set out in an official statement of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. I reproduce the text in full
On April 14, the United States, supported by its allies, launched an airstrike against military and civilian targets in the Syrian Arab Republic. An act of aggression against a sovereign state that is on the frontline in the fight against terrorism was committed without a mandate from the UN Security Council and in violation of the UN Charter and norms and principles of international law.
Just as one year ago, when the Shayrat Airbase in Syria came under attack, the US used as a pretext a staged chemical attack against civilians, this time in Douma, a Damascus suburb. Having visited the site of the would-be chemical attack, Russian military experts did not find any traces of chlorine or any other toxic agent. Not a single local resident was able to confirm that a chemical attack had actually taken place.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons dispatched its experts to Syria in order to investigate all the circumstances. However, in a sign of cynical disdain, a group of Western countries decided to take military action without waiting for the results of the investigation.
Russia condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack against Syria, where Russian military personnel are assisting the legitimate government in its counterterrorism efforts.
Through its actions, the US makes the already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Syria even worse and brings suffering to civilians. In fact, the US panders to the terrorists who have been tormenting the Syrian people for seven years, leading to a wave of refugees fleeing this country and the region.
The current escalation around Syria is destructive for the entire system of international relations. History will set things right, and Washington already bears the heavy responsibility for the bloody outrage in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya.
Russia will convene an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the aggressive actions by the US and its allies.
As is now becoming traditional (especially in the Xi era) China’s condemnation has taken the form of a strongly worded editorial in the official English language newspaper Global Times. The text of the editorial shows that it was written whilst the US military strike was still underway
The facts cannot be distorted. This military strike was not authorized by the UN, and the strikes targeted a legal government of a UN member state. The US and its European allies launched strikes to punish President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical attack in Duma last weekend. However, it has not been confirmed if the chemical weapons attack happened or if it did, whether government forces or opposition forces launched it. International organizations have not carried out any authoritative investigation.
The Syrian government has repeatedly stressed that there is no need for it to use chemical weapons to capture the opposition-controlled Duma city and the use of chemical weapons has provided an excuse for Western intervention. The Syrian government’s argument or Trump’s accusations against the “evil” Assad regime, which one is in line with basic logic? The answer is quite obvious.
The US has a record of launching wars on deceptive grounds. The Bush government asserted the Saddam regime held chemical weapons before the US-British coalition troops invaded Iraq in 2003. However, the coalition forces didn’t find what they called weapons of mass destruction after overthrowing the Saddam regime. Both Washington and London admitted later that their intelligence was false.
The Global Times editorial is however interesting in the way it also reports the current campaign of Russia-baiting which is underway in the West, and of which it obviously sees the missile strike on Syria as a part
The Russian Embassy in the USA said in a statement that “insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.”…..
………Trump also warned “Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or if it will join with civilized nations as a force for stability and peace.”……
Washington’s attack on Syria where Russian troops are stationed constitute serious contempt for Russia’s military capabilities and political dignity. Trump, like scolding a pupil, called on Moscow, one of the world’s leading nuclear powers, to abandon its “dark path.” Disturbingly, Washington seems to have become addicted to mocking Russia in this way. Russia is capable of launching a destructive retaliatory attack on the West. Russia’s weak economy is plagued by Western sanctions and squeezing of its strategic space. That the West provokes Russia in such a manner is irresponsible for world peace.
The situation is still fomenting. The Trump administration said it will sustain the strikes. But how long will the military action continue and whether Russia will fight back as it claimed previously remain uncertain. Western countries continue bullying Russia but are seemingly not afraid of its possible counterattack. Their arrogance breeds risk and danger.
The words about “Russia’s weak economy being plagued by Western sanctions and squeezed of its strategic space” obviously refer to the latest US sanctions announced a week ago, which led to temporary falls in the rouble and the Russian stock market, both of which have however since stabilised.
Behind the words one senses alarm in Beijing that US policy towards Russia is to try to bully it to change its path (“dark path”) and to break its alliance with Beijing.
China assesses US policy towards Russia correctly. When I recently discussed the new US Strategic Posture Review I summed it up in this way
[The US] plan appears to be step up the nuclear arms race with Russia in the hope that this will force Moscow to come to terms with the US on US terms, thereby leaving the US free to turn its full weight onto China, which the Nuclear Posture Review shows the US realises is its true longterm rival.
To this should be added US attempts to squeeze the Russian economy, with US offers – actually repeated at length by Donald Trump in his statement authorising the US strike on Syria – to provide Russia with massive economic assistance if it changes its “dark path” ie. reverses its alliance with China. As I have also said previously, this is likely to be the course Donald Trump’s two new foreign policy chiefs, Pompeo and Bolton, will want to follow.
In my opinion Chinese fears are groundless. The Russians learnt to their cost in the 1990s what “massive US economic assistance” amounts to, and will not will be tempted by it a second time.
However it is interesting the Chinese still have these fears, and that may lead China in response to step up its economic ties with Russia, the better to bind it to itself.