One wouldn’t know it by looking at the market, but the biggest developing story today was Russia’s threat to intercept any aircraft – including US – flying in the area of operations of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria, and “be followed as targets” after yesterday’s downing by a US F-18 of a Syrian Su-22 fighter jet. Moments ago the US responded to this unmistakable deterioration in relations between the two nations, when a Pentagon spokesman said U.S. pilots over Syria will defend themselves if attacked by Russians.
“We are aware of the Russian statements,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday morning quoted by WashEx. “We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened,” Davis said, seemingly unaware that shooting down a sovereign nation’s plane above its own territory is exactly what “seeking a conflict” looks like. In a follow up statement this afternoon, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the US will “retain the right of self-defense in Syria.”
Separately, Col. Ryan Dillon, chief U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said “coalition aircraft continue to conduct operations throughout Syria, targeting ISIS forces and providing air support for coalition partner forces on the ground.”
Menawhile, Russia doubled down after Viktor Ozerov, the Russian parliament’s, defense committee’s chairman, said U.S.-led aircraft in Syria may face “destruction” if they threaten the lives of Russian pilot. While Russia hopes it won’t have to take such action, “we won’t allow anyone to do what happened to the Syrian plane to our pilots,” he said.
Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the defense committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the the Defense Ministry’s response doesn’t mean there’ll be war with the U.S., though it’s a “pretty serious” signal that Russia won’t accept acts of aggression against Syria.
On the other hand, “lawmakers have no influence” on the Kremlin’s policy toward Syria and “all Russian actions, not rhetoric, show that Putin is trying now to avoid escalation with the West,” said Ruslan Pukhov, head of the Center of Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow. To be sure, Russia previously vowed to halt deconfliction coordination in April, after the U.S. bombed a Syrian airbase in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces. But the U.S.-Russian communications to avoid clashes in the skies over Syria resumed after only a few days.
Full article: Pentagon Responds: “US Pilots Will Defend Themselves If Attacked By Russians” (ZeroHedge)