Vladimir Putin has condemned US-led Military strike on Syria as an “act of aggression” and said Russia would convene an emergency session of the UN security council over the attack.
In a statement released by the Kremlin, the Russian president denied evidence of a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma and said the strike would “have a destructive effect on the entire system of international relations”.
It did not appear late on Saturday morning that the attack would trigger a military response from Russia , as Moscow reported that the missiles had steered clear of Russian military bases in the country.
The remarks capped an angry response from across the Russian establishment to the strikes carried out by the US, France and Britain. Russia’s ambassador to the US warned of “consequences”, while a high-ranking Russian politician compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.
Russia on Saturday also claimed that Syrian air defences shot down 71 of 103 cruise missiles heading for military installations using antiquated Soviet technology, potentially raising questions of whether Moscow secretly helped repel the strike.
“Syrian air defence systems S-125, S-200, Buk and Kvadrat took part in repelling the missile strike,” a Russian defence ministry official said on Saturday. “These air defence complexes were produced in the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago.”
The official said on Saturday Russia had completely rebuilt Syria’s air defence system over the past 18 months.
Defence officials also threatened that Russia would resume discussions with Syria and other countries over the sale of modern S-300 air defence systems to protect against future US strikes.
Russian embassy officials in Damascus said they did not have information on Russians harmed in the attack, a red line for the Moscow defence ministry it has said would provoke a military response, possibly against the planes and ships that launched the attack.
Russian officials also said the missiles launched by the coalition of french, British and US forces did not enter the airspace protected by their air defence systems.
In a strongly worded statement, Russia’s ambassador to the US described the airstrikes as a direct threat to Moscow and said insulting Putin was “unacceptable and inadmissible”.
“We are being threatened,” said the ambassador, Anatoly Antonov. “We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.”
Alexander Sherin, the deputy head of the Duma’s defence committee, likened Trump to Hitler and described the strikes as a targeted threat against Russia. Russia has had a military presence in Syria since 2015 to support the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assa
In comments reported by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, Sherin said Trump “can be called Adolf Hitler No 2 of our time because, you see, he even chose the time that Hitler attacked the Soviet Union”, making reference to the Nazis’ first attacks against the Soviet Union in 1941, which were also launched at about 4am.
“First the ‘Arab spring’ tested the Syrian people, then Islamic State, now smart American rockets. The capital of a sovereign government, trying for years to survive under terrorist aggression, has been attacked,” the foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook.”
“You have to be quite abnormal to attack Syria’s capital just at the moment when it had a chance for a peaceful future,” she added.
The comments came after Russia accused the UK of “staging” the chemical weapon attacks in Douna the last rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus. At least 70 people are reported to have died and more than 500 injured.
Russia’s defence ministry claimed the attack was faked and said it had “irrefutable evidence” the UK was instrumental in staging it as a way to justify western intervention in Syria.
“We have evidence that proves Britain was directly involved in organising this provocation,” the defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. Britain’s UN envoy, Karen Pierce, described the Russian accusation as a “grotesque, blatant lie”.
The US, Britain and France made the case for military action against Syria at a UN security council meeting on Friday. However, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said the three countries had ulterior motives and wanted to “oust the Syrian government and to deter, contain the Russian Federation”.