Michael Goodwin: What Trump told me about Syria

Russian Federation vetoed a Western-backed United Nations resolution Wednesday that would have condemned the reported use of chemical weapons in a town in northern Syria and demanded a speedy investigation into the attack that killed almost 90 people.

Wednesday marks the eigth time Moscow exercised a veto in support of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad since the Syrian conflict began six years ago.

"The level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better but most likely has degraded", Mr Putin said in an interview broadcast onWednesday by state television channel Mir.

Could Syria have launched the chemical weapons attack with Russia's advance knowledge?

If Russia or Syria were to use their military assets to fend off any future USA strike, it may put Moscow and Washington on the brink of a head-on confrontation, and the Kremlin's decision to cut the crucial communications link between the militaries could make matters worse.

Washington has said that Russian Federation and Syria are trying to "confuse the world community about who is responsible for using chemical weapons against the Syrian people in this and earlier attacks".

Lavrov also said Russian Federation expects the U.S.to take part in a meeting on Afghanistan this week. Today, the Interfax news agency quotes Putin saying that rather than improving, the relationship and trust between Russian Federation and the US has deteriorated rather than improved under President Trump's administration.

At a minimum, Tillerson will meet Wednesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and the two are expected to take questions from reporters.

"The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end", he confidently predicted.

The fallout over the chemical attack follows comments by the Trump administration and Russian Federation that a reset in relations between the countries was possible after decades of hostility.

"We're not going into Syria", Trump told Fox Business.

At the news conference after the Putin meeting, Tillerson reiterated the US position that Assad's regime was responsible for the chemical attack.

The President said the discussion occurred over the "most lovely piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen". Mr Putin had even honoured Mr Tillerson a friendship award. "We consider it of utmost importance to prevent the risks of replay of similar action in the future". Both Washington and Moscow say their main enemy is Islamic State, although they back opposing sides in the wider civil war which has killed more than 400,000 people and spawned the world's worst refugee crisis. (Candidate Trump, however, was consistent, saying past year that "you have to go after them big league.") Some of the difference in the latter comes from "blind partisanship" as Allahpundit rightly points out, but some of it probably comes from the bias toward action over inaction.

Allegations of collusion between Russian officials and Trump campaign associates also have weakened Trump's ability to sweeten any offer for greater co-operation, such as by easing economic sanctions on Moscow related to its 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

He also warned the U.S. against staging a repeat of its missile attack against Syria.

Russian Federation has accused the US of breaking global law and using a chemical weapons attack as a pretext to launch Tomahawk missiles at Syria's military last week.

President Trump then mistakenly said: "So what happens is I said, 'We have just launched 59 missiles, heading to Iraq.'" He was corrected by interviewer Maria Bartiromo, at which point Trump corrected himself, saying: "Yes heading toward Syria".

Putin's government has been incensed by the Trump administration's public accusations, and even more so by US military intervention in Syria.

Trump, in the past, has called Assad "evil" and "an animal".

  • Larry Hoffman