On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took part in an open meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow to discuss the contentious relationship between the two countries and to urge the Kremlin to forgo its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Following the meeting, Russian state media reported that Lavrov issued a warning to Tillerson that the U.S. was to not strike Russia’s close ally, Syria, again.
Last week, President Trump ordered a military strike on Syria’s Shayrat air base in Homs in retaliation for the deadly chemical gas attack against the Syrian people. The Trump administration concluded that the Assad regime was responsible for the chemical weapon attack that killed at least 86 and injured hundreds more. The U.S. targeted the Shayrat air base with 59 Tomahawk missiles after it made the discovery that the chemical weapon used was launched from that military base.
According to the Russian state run news agency, TASS, Lavrov said during his meeting with Tillerson that the U.S. issued an “unlawful attack” against Syria.
“Most recently, we saw rather alarming steps, when an unlawful attack against Syria was carried out,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov went on to say that Russia has made its opinion on the matter clear and believes steps should be taken to not allow another strike to happen again.
“Russia’s leadership has already voiced its principal assessments in this respect. We believe it is of principal importance to prevent risks of a repeat of such steps in the future,” he said.
Lavrov also criticized the Trump administration for the mixed messages about its policy concerning Syria.
“I will be frank that we had a lot of questions regarding a lot of very ambiguous as well as contradictory ideas on a whole plethora of bilateral and international agenda coming from Washington,” Lavrov said.
The Russian Foreign Minister went on to condemn the statements Tillerson made earlier in the day at the meeting with G7 leaders where he gave Russia an ultimatum to pick sides.
“We want to create a future for Syria that is stable and secure,” Tillerson said during the earlier meeting. “And so Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role, or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia’s interest longer-term.”
Lavrov called Tillerson’s remarks to choose between Assad and the U.S. the “wrong choices.”