Last week, the United States launched 59 Tomahawk missiles into a Syrian airbase that has been used by Russian forces, and since then, the air between the Kremlin and the United States government has become even more tense. President Trump has not tweeted about Vladimir Putin since the attack and has been uncharacteristically silent about it, even when Russia suspended their communications channel with the United States.
In a statement, Kremlin Press Secretary Dimitry Peskov said, “President Putin regards the American attacks on Syria as aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law, and under a far-fetched pretext […] the strike caused significant damage to US-Russian ties, which are already in a deplorable state.”
And on Tuesday morning, Putin doubled down on his rhetoric. Reuters reported that the leader stated, “Russia had information that the United States was planning to launch new missile strikes on Syria, and that there were plans to fake chemical weapons attacks there.” When a journalist asked if the Kremlin was expecting more strikes similar to those carried out on Thursday, Putin responded, “We have information that a similar provocation is being prepared.” He also continued with the narrative that United States may be behind the use of chemical weapons, saying, “They are planning to again plant some substance [in the southern Damascus suburbs] and accuse the Syrian authorities of using chemical weapons.”
On Monday, the Associated Press reported that U.S. officials have “made a preliminary conclusion that Russia knew in advance of Syria’s chemical weapons attack.” However, they have no proof that the Kremlin was directly involved in the attack. The official who spoke to AP noted that a Russian surveillance drone was flying over a hospital where victims of the attack were seeking treatment. Soon after, a jet bombed the hospital; while the jet was made in Russia, Syrian air forces also operate Russian-made jets, and thus the United States is still unsure whether Russia or Syria was responsible.