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Russia Suspends Air Force Safety Memorandum With U.S.


The Russian military has suspended a memorandum of understanding on flight safety in Syria between the Russian and U.S. air forces after President Donald Trump dropped nearly 60 Tomahawk missiles on Syrian government air bases.

Trump ordered the missile launch after approximately 80 civilians were killed by sarin gas on April 4 -- an attack that is widely believed in the Western media to have been carried out by the Syrian government, but which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Russian government blames rebel forces, including ISIS militants.

"Without bothering to investigate anything, the US went forward with a demonstration of force, a military confrontation with a country that is fighting international terrorism,” the Foreign Ministry’s statement reads, according to RT.

According to The Hill, Russia and the U.S. signed the memorandum in October 2015 after Russian air forces intervened in the fight against Syrian rebels on behalf of the Syrian government.

Before the memorandum was signed, U.S. and Russia aircraft had incidents in which they came within a couple miles of each other.

"[T]his agreement will ensure establishing lines of 24-hour operational communication between the military headquarters of Russia and the United States and mechanisms of interaction, including provision of mutual assistance in case of emergency," said a statement from the Russian military from at the time of the memorandum's signing. "The US side has undertaken to inform all other members of the Counter-ISIL Coalition led by the United States of the agreed rules and the Coalition members’ aircrews will adhere to these arrangements."

By canceling the memorandum, the risk of mid-air conflict between the U.S. and Russia air forces could be increased.

In its statement after the U.S. dropped dozens of missiles on Syria, the Russian foreign ministry also accused the U.S. government of having planned the missile launch well before the April 4 chemical attack.

"Obviously, the cruise missile attack was prepared beforehand. Any expert can tell that the decision to strike was made in Washington before the events in Idlib, which were used as a pretext for a demonstration," the statement reads.

The Russian foreign ministry also doubled down on the position that the Syrian rebels were responsible for the chemical weapons attack.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has "inspected virtually all the objects in Syria which were connected, or could be connected, to the country’s chemical warfare program," the Russian foreign ministry said, according to RT. As such, it believes the Syrian government could not be responsible for the attack, and instead asserts that the Syrian air force bombed a rebel-held warehouse, which contained the chemical weapons that were then spread throughout th Northern Syrian city of Idlib.

"The US pretends it doesn’t get obvious things. It turned a blind eye on terrorist usage of chemical weapons in Iraq, which Baghdad officially reported. It dismissed documented cases of terrorist chemical warfare usage in Aleppo. All this does is abet international terrorism and bolster it,” the statement read.

Sources: RT, Russian military, The Hill / Photo Credit: Russian military

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