The United States and Russian Federation agreed Wednesday to call for an global investigation of the deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria last week that prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to launch a retaliatory missile strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In Paris, French President Francois Hollande said: "Russia bears a heavy responsibility" by systematically opposing multilateral action to protect its Syrian ally Assad. Putin's comments suggest Russian Federation had high hopes for rapprochement with Trump, and the dramatic reverse by the new administration had badly eroded Russia's trust in anything they say.
Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, and Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, announced they would restore a military hotline created to avoid their forces clashing in Syria and would both support a United Nations investigation into last week's poison gas attack.
After Tillerson spent three hours talking with Lavrov and nearly two hours at the Kremlin with Putin, conveying Washington's demands that Moscow abandon Syria, the Russian Foreign Minister aired a long list of grievances with the U.S., some dating back many years.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Vladivostok, Russia in 2012. -Russian relations may be at an all-time low.
Donald Trump defended his decision to launch 59 missiles at the Syrian airbase in response to last week's chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria's Idlib, that killed more than 80 people.
Looking at the resolution's supporters sitting around the horseshoe-shaped table in the Security Council, he said: "You are afraid of an impartial investigation" that the Syrian government was being blamed for chemical weapons attacks carried out by extremists.
With the tension between Russian Federation and US over the Syria civil war not looking to be resolved any time soon, people from all over are getting understandably anxious.
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UK ambassador to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft said it was "indefensible" for Russian Federation to support the Syrian regime, as UK scientists in Porton Down confirmed that samples from the scene tested positive for a toxic chemical known as sarin. "But I do think it's going to happen at a certain point", Trump said. "But we can start by working together to actually de-escalate the conflict", she said.
Tillerson's trip to Moscow represented the highest-level contact between the US and Russian Federation since Trump took office in January.
Describing the Syrian leader as a "butcher" he said he had "absolutely no doubt" the U.S. had done the "right thing".
"The perspective of the United States is that the recent chemical weapons attack carried out by Syria was planned, directed and executed by Syrian regime forces".
"We have information that a similar provocation is being prepared... in other parts of Syria including in the southern Damascus suburbs where they are planning to again plant some substance and accuse the Syrian authorities of using chemical weapons", he said on Tuesday.
At their meeting, Lavrov told Tillerson Moscow was hoping to understand Washington s "real intentions" and warned that Moscow considered it "fundamentally important" to prevent more "unlawful" U.S. strikes against its ally Syria. "The world's foremost nuclear powers can not have this relationship", he added.
Beyond Syria, Russia's alleged meddling in the USA presidential election also hovered over what was the first face-to-face encounter between Putin and any Trump administration Cabinet member.