One wouldn't know it by looking at the market, but the biggest developing story today was Russia's threat to intercept any aircraft - including US - flying in the area of operations of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria, and "be followed as targets" after yesterday's downing by a US F-18 of a Syrian Su-22 fighter jet. Moments ago the US responded to this unmistakable deterioration in relations between the two nations, when a Pentagon spokesman said U.S. pilots over Syria will defend themselves if attacked by Russians.
"We are aware of the Russian statements," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday morning quoted by WashEx. "We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened," Davis said, seemingly unaware that shooting down a sovereign nation's plane above its own territory is exactly what "seeking a conflict" looks like. In a follow up statement this afternoon, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the US will "retain the right of self-defense in Syria."
Earlier, the Russian defense ministry called the US attack on a Syrian jet “a cynical violation of Syria’s sovereignty” and said Russia was halting so-called deconfliction coordination with the U.S. aimed at averting air incidents.
Meanwhile, Russia doubled down after Viktor Ozerov, the Russian parliament's, defense committee’s chairman, said U.S.-led aircraft in Syria may face “destruction” if they threaten the lives of Russian pilot. While Russia hopes it won’t have to take such action, “we won’t allow anyone to do what happened to the Syrian plane to our pilots,” he said.
Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the defense committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the the Defense Ministry’s response doesn’t mean there’ll be war with the U.S., though it’s a “pretty serious” signal that Russia won’t accept acts of aggression against Syria.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced it is halting cooperation with its US counterparts in the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria following the coalition’s downing of a Syrian warplane.
The ministry has demanded a thorough investigation by the US military command into the incident with the Syrian government military jet, with the results to be shared with the Russian side.
“In the areas of combat missions of Russian air fleet in Syrian skies, any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets,” the Russian Ministry of Defense stated.
Downing the military jet within Syrian airspace “cynically” violates the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic, Russian military said.
The actions of the US Air Force are in fact “military aggression” against Syria, the statement adds.
The ministry emphasized that Russian warplanes were on a mission in Syrian airspace during the US-led coalition’s attack on the Syrian Su-22, while the coalition failed to use the communication line to prevent an incident.
“The command of the coalition forces did not use the existing communication channel between the air commands of Al Udeid Airbase (in Qatar) and the Khmeimim Airbase to prevent incidents in Syrian airspace.”
The ministry considers the move “a conscious failure to comply with the obligations under the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria,” and is thus halting cooperation with the US within the memorandum framework as of June 19, the statement concluded.
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