The Russian Defence Ministry is on high alert after the United States shot down a Syrian aircraft in Syrian airspace. This was a clear violation of international law which Russia has condemned.
Now, Russia has issued the following statement, which is Moscow’s most serious challenge to the United States since the beginning of the Syrian conflict,
“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 defence forces as air targets”.
The statement from the Russian Defence Ministry also called the US attack on a Syrian aircraft an act of “military aggression”.
Russia further accused the US of failing to give any warning of the attack, a violation of the Memorandum on Flight Safety between Moscow and Washington which Russia has today suspended. The statement continued,
“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”.
Russia furthermore claimed that the US acted deliberately, describing the US war crime as,
“…a conscious failure to comply with the obligations under the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria”.
Russia clearly has drawn its own ‘red line’ to borrow a phrase typically used by US forces.
Russia’s S-400 anti-missile and anti-aircraft defense systems are now fully operational in Syria.
Not only is this the most serious message Russia has issued to the US, but even when Turkey shot down a Russian jet in 2015, such a statement was not issued in respect of considering Turkish aircraft legitimate targets as US aircraft in certain parts of Syria now are.