Kremlin says Russia won’t engage in Twitter diplomacy with the US. His remarks come in response to President Trump’s recent tweets warning Russia to prepare for the new missiles coming to Syria. Radio Sputnik discussed the incident in the Syrian city of Douma with Gerhard Mangott, political analyst from Austria's Innsbrook University.
Sputnik: Please, share your thoughts on the recent incident in the Syrian city of Douma.
Gerhard Mangott: What we would need desperately is an independent verification that a gas attack has happened and who probably was the perpetrator of any gas attack and […] the great powers in the Security Council couldn't agree on a joint resolution to have some sort of joint investigative mechanism. So what we should wait for now is an independent analysis by experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the Syrian government aided by the Russians should provide any assistance to the mission that experts are asking for to find out what had really happened in Douma.
Sputnik: Why do you think the United States so hastily put the blame on Damascus?
Gerhard Mangott: Of course if they had evidence for that and had presented it at the Security Council and of course it's not unlikely that the Syrian government was behind this attack because we have proof and evidence that both sides to the conflict, the Syrian government or, for that matter, the Islamic State have already used nerve agents on the battleground. But the logic of the moment actually doesn't support the idea that the Syrian government has committed the crime because when President Trump announced last week that the US is going to leave Syria in a couple of months why should the Syrian government commit to something which will make sure that the US stays in Syria. It's not very logical. Besides an agreement has been negotiated about the departure of the rebels in Eastern Ghouta to the provinces of Idlib, so when the rebels would've left Eastern Ghouta anyway, why stage such an attack? So pure logic is not very supportive of this idea that the Syrian government has committed the crime. Anyway what we need is evidence on the ground and we cannot just rely on the videos and messages that come from the opposition.
Sputnik: What are your thoughts on the recent comment made be US President Donald Trump? He said that the US will be sending missiles and missiles will be coming nice, and new, and smart, he said.
Gerhard Mangott: It's a highly irresponsible message. I wouldn't expect the president of a nuclear power to make such a statement via Twitter. And doing so actually is not what you should expect from the president of the US. If he does indeed use missile strikes against Syrian government installations, military installations then it would be an illegal move. As would be the use of chemical weapons of course, it's also a violation of international law. But a military strike by the US, France and the UK which is now being talked about, would be illegal and what's more worrisome in the legality or illegality of the strike is the fact that Syria is the most combustible battleground, they have so many forces, they have Turkish, Russian, Syrian, Iranian, American and Kurdish forces; so going in there militarily, with military strikes, has a high risk of escalation. And that's not what you would do when you're reasonable. The big question is how would the Russians respond and here we have two different messages. The head of the chief of staff of the Russian Armed Forces argues that Russia would retaliate if any military personnel from Russia is wounded by such a US strike but the Russian ambassador to Lebanon has said the Russians would react with their air defense systems in any case. So we don't really know how Russia will respond if such a missile strike happens, and if Russia responds militarily then we'll have the first military confrontation between Russia and the US in history.
Sputnik: How high are the chances that we may see the possible confrontation between Washington and Moscow?
Gerhard Mangott: Trump himself with his tweet and several other announcements that there'll be a high price to pay for Syria, for the Russians, for the Iranians and his tweet yesterday that the missiles will be coming actually almost determines that Trump orders a missile strike. I know that several other options are discussed but Trump would lose his face if he doesn't now use missiles to target Syrian military installations. But the question is will [similar to the] missile strike that we had seen about a year ago when the US on one occasion sent about 59 missile Tomahawk to Syrian airfield or will it be a much bigger strike. The bigger it is, the longer it takes, the higher the risk is that we'll have a military retaliation by the Syrians, by the Russians or whoever.
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