Battle commenced in earnest when Trump took to Twitter in the morning — in keeping with his prior reliance on the social media platform for disseminating fiery rhetoric, the US president responded to suggestions that Russia would shoot down American missiles fired at Syria with threats, and an implied ultimatum, promising "nice, new and 'smart'" rockets would be "coming" for Bashar al-Assad. He dubbed the Syrian leader a "Gas Killing Animal".
Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
Zakharova was not going to take the President's incendiary grandstanding lying down. On Facebook, she viciously and succinctly attacked the foundations of Trump's threats — and the US case for attacking Syria.
"US President Donald Trump has claimed Russia needs to be prepared to shoot down missiles launched on Syria. He posted that on his Twitter account this Wednesday. Smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not the legitimate government, which has been fighting international terror on its territory for several years now. Oh and incidentally, have the OPCW inspectors been warned "smart" rockets would destroy any evidence of chemical use on ground? Or is this exactly the point — to quickly cover up all traces of this provocation by a smart missile strike so that the international experts would have nothing. to search for as proof?" Zakharova wrote.
It's unknown whether the president was apprised of Zakharova's riposte, although his subsequent Twitter salvo was slightly more measured. While apportioning blame to Russia for the parlous state of Washington's relations with Moscow — which Trump perhaps bizarrely claimed were "worse now" than even during the Cold War — he struck an almost dovish, conciliatory tone, calling for "all nations to work together," and suggesting "the arms race" could be stopped.
Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
Whether Trump's slightly more friendly approach was a "bait" or not, Zakharova certainly wouldn't bite. Her next Facebook posting took an altogether more sardonic tint — although her underlying point was a very serious one. The US is after all the owner of the world's largest stockpile of chemical weapons (over 2,500 metric tons of the most dangerous weaponized toxic substances), while Russia's arsenal was completely destroyed in 2017 under OPCW verification.
"Trump's offered Russia to stop the arms race. Great idea! Here's a proposal — start that by destroying all chemical weapons stock. The American one," Zakharova wrote.
The US President is renowned for being extremely fickle, and changing his views, stances and policies radically in the blink of an eye — and his next tweet seemingly completely contradicted his previous one. Rather than stating there was "no reason" for US/Russia relations to be so woeful, and implying Russia was the country at fault in the relationship, he attributed current hostility into Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into alleged collusion between the President's campaign team and the Kremlin during the 2016 election.
Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter). No Collusion, so they go crazy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018