"Smart missiles must strike terrorists, not the legitimate government that has been fighting international terrorism on its territory for several years," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova when she took to Facebook to respond to Donald Trump's latest tweets on a possible military strike on Syria.
Zakharova went on to say that any strike could be a possible attempt to cover up the evidence proving that there had been no chemical attack in Douma.
Responding to President Trump's call to stop what he described as an "arms race," the spokeswoman noted that it was a "great idea," and suggested starting "with US chemical weapons."
The United States is believed to be the owner of the world's largest stockpile of chemical weapons (more than 2,500 metric tons of the most dangerous weaponized toxic substances), while Russia's arsenal was completely destroyed in 2017 under OPCW observation.
Get Ready Russia
The harsh remarks from Moscow follow the US president's tweets calling for Russia to "get ready" for "nice and new and smart" American missiles in Syria.
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) 11 апреля 2018 г.
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) 11 апреля 2018 г.
POTUS also tried to explain the reason for the hostility in relations with Russia, blaming it on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 election in the United States:
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) 11 апреля 2018 г.
Earlier in the day, Yevgeny Serebrennikov, first deputy chairman of the Russian upper house's defense committee, had warned that Russia will respond immediately if its servicemen in Syria get hit by potential US strikes.
“As the Defense Ministry has already pointed out, the Russian military bases in Hmeymim and Tartus are under firm protection. At the same time, we expect that in the event of US strikes, if any, the lives of our servicemen will not be in danger. I think that the United States understands this and will not allow it, because otherwise, Russia's response will be immediate, as the chief of the Russian General Staff has said," Serebrennikov commented.
Media reports suggested that Trump and his advisers had been weighing a "powerful" military response to the alleged use of a chlorine bomb, deeming it the only credible way to deter further chemical attacks. The Turkish news agency Yeni Safak reported, citing international relations scholar Zakariye Molahafci, that the US had designated 22 targets, including Russian sites, in Syria.
Chemical Attack Controversy
The United Nations Security Council voted against Russia’s draft resolution favoring a fact-finding mission by the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Syria; while Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Bolivia and Ethiopia supported the draft, the US, France, the UK and Poland voted against. Other members of the UNSC abstained from voting.
On April 7, several media platforms, citing militants, reported that Syrian government forces had used chemical weapons against civilians in the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta. The story was immediately picked up by the White Helmets, who started posting unverified footage of the aftermath of the alleged attack, claiming that up to 70 people had died of "widespread suffocation."
The Russian Defense Ministry, in turn, stated that no traces of chemical agents had been found in the area of Douma, where the alleged attack had taken place.