Russia ridicules Trump's Twitter diplomacy in Syria standoff

Russia's deputy prime minister ridiculed President Donald Trump's Twitter diplomacy Friday, saying that international...

Posted: Apr 14, 2018 12:57 AM
Updated: Apr 14, 2018 12:57 AM

Russia's deputy prime minister ridiculed President Donald Trump's Twitter diplomacy Friday, saying that international relations should not depend on any individual's frame of mind.

"We cannot depend on the mood of someone on the other side of the ocean when he wakes up, on what a specific person takes into his head in the morning," Arkady Dvorkovich said, according to the Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

He did not specifically name Trump, but the US leader did threaten military action against Syria in early-morning tweets this week.

As the United States considers its response to a suspected chemical attack last week in Douma, Syria, Trump's threats against Syria and Russia have been made almost entirely on Twitter.

Russia, the Syrian regime's most powerful ally, has denied a chemical attack took place and warned it would shoot down any US missiles fired over Syria, raising concerns of a US-Russia confrontation.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the reports of a chemical attack had been fabricated. He claimed to have evidence that the secret services of an unnamed state had a hand in staging the attack as part of a wider campaign against Russia, RIA Novosti reported.

US allies await plan

Ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on Syria, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said the United States had confirmed chemical weapons were used in Saturday's attack in Douma, though she did not explain how.

Biological samples from Douma tested positive for chlorine and a Sarin-like nerve agent, according to an American official familiar with the US analysis of test results.

Medical sources and activists in Syria said blood, urine and hair follicle samples had been smuggled in batches from Turkey during evacuations of rebel groups and their families from Douma.

Haley said the United States did not want to rush into a response to the attack, but France and the UK have been coordinating with Washington on possible action and are still awaiting a US plan.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her senior ministers agreed on the need for action at a Cabinet meeting Thursday, while French President Emmanuel Macron said that France would target Syria's chemical capabilities if it conducted any strikes.

Macron also said in an interview Thursday with French TV channel TF1 that he also had proof chemical weapons were used in the attack. He provided no details but pointed to Syria's Assad regime as the likely perpetrator.

Germany joined the chorus of European countries saying it believed the attack involved chemical weapons and called for action.

After sending mixed signals on their stance, US officials now appear to be on the same page, using softer rhetoric than Trump's initial threats to strike Syria.

Missing a self-imposed, 48-hour deadline to make a decision, Trump rolled back on that timeline. "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!" he wrote Thursday on Twitter.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told lawmakers Thursday he believed there had been a chemical attack and that although it was "simply inexcusable, beyond the pale," he called attention to the risks of further US involvement in Syria.

"We are trying to stop the murder of innocent people, but on a strategic level it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that?" he said.

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