Following the US’s strike on a Syrian military airfield and nearby infrastructure, Russia announced its departure from two key agreements that sought to minimize the risk of conflict between US-led coalition forces and Russian and Syrian forces.
The Russia Foreign Ministry announced that it suspended an agreement to avoid clashes between Russian and US-led coalition jets over Syrian airspace, while Reuters reporter Idrees Ali reports that Russia withdrew from a deconfliction channel, which the US used Thursday night to warn Russian forces of the incoming cruise-missile strikes (which took place Friday morning local time).
This comes as the US has jets flying missions against the Islamic State terrorist group in eastern Syria mere miles from Russian jets in western Syria supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad. Without channels and agreements to communicate, the risk of accidental conflict between the world’s two largest nuclear powers grows.
At the same time, Sim Tack of Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis firm, told Business Insider that the deconfliction channel “may be reinstated soon.”
- US Navy
Additionally, “the US has a serious amount of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets at its disposal where they can monitor airspace effectively and minimize that risk,” Tack said. Essentially, the US can use drones, radars, and satellites to make sure the path is clear before launching any strikes.
Russia has condemned Friday’s US strike, which was launched from two US destroyers in retaliation to the chemical-weapon attack this week that killed at least 80 people in the northwestern part of the country. Many world leaders have hailed the move.
“It is in this vital national security interest of the US to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” US President Donald Trump said in a televised address after the strikes.