Russia closes communication channels with the US in Syria

Russia closes communication channels with the US in Syria
Acting in response to the US' missile strikes on a Syrian regime airbase, a Russian military spokesperson said Moscow was closing a safety coordination channel with Washington.
2 min read
08 April, 2017
Igor Konashenkov, a defence spokesperson briefing reporters on the new arrangements in Syria [TASS/Getty]

Russia's Foreign Ministry announced on Friday it was suspending a communications channel between itself and the United States which helps prevent midair collisions between the two nations' aircraft in Syria.

Russia said it was revoking a non-aggression pact with the US, which allowed US planes to fly in the same airspace as Russian planes in north Syria, after the US launched cruise missiles against a Syrian military airport for the first time.

"The defense ministry summoned the US embassy's military attache in Moscow to officially suspend Russian obligations under our joint Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) - effective from 00:00 hours on April 8," said Igor Konashenkov, chief spokesperson for Russia's ministry of defence.

Russia and the US signed an MoU on aviation safety in Syria on 20 October 2015, Interfax reports.

On Thursday night, two US navy ships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the eastern Mediterranean at the Syrian regime's Sharyat airbase.

Russia's President Putin said on Friday morning that the strike had "dealt a serious blow" to Russian-US relations.

The attack - the first US strike against the Syrian regime - was in response to a chemical weapons attack that
reportedly killed more than 70 civilians, including 20 children in Idlib province on Tuesday.

The US treasury said on Friday night that it was also preparing new economic sanctions against Syria - which would be released in the "near future".

"We view sanctions as being a very important tool," said treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin.

No further details on the size and scope of the sanctions were given.