LONDON — Russia has warned of a “real war” with the US if they attempt to issue them with an ultimatum over their support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
British foreign secretary Boris Johnson will on Monday call for Western powers to impose sanctions on Russia if it fails to cut ties with Assad following his chemical weapons attack on his own civilians.
However, the Russian embassy in London warned of a “real war” if the US and its allies impose any such ultimatum.
Any such threat by the G7 nations “brings us to real war” they warned, before questioning the leadership of US secretary of state Rex Tillerson and Johnson.
In a joint statement, Russian, Iranian and Assad-supporting forces said that the US attack on Syrian airbase last week had crossed a “red line” and warned that any further attacks would be responded to with force.
“What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines,” the statement said.
“From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.”
Johnson was due to begin a visit to Moscow today. However, the foreign secretary cancelled the trip following a telephone conversation with Tillerson.
The decision led to condemnation and mockery both at home and abroad.
Johnson had shown a “fundamental misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of the events in Syria, Russia’s efforts to settle that crisis and the general objectives of diplomacy”, the Russian foreign ministry said.
“The decision to call off Johnson’s visit to Moscow confirms once again doubts in the presence of added value in speaking to the UK, which does not have its own position on the majority of present-day issues, nor does it have real influence on the course of international affairs, as it remains ‘in the shadow’ of its strategic partners. We do not feel that we need dialogue with London any more than it does.”
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell insisted on Sunday that Johnson should have gone ahead with the visit, while Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said he had been left looking like a “poodle” of the US.
Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond said the decision had left Johnson looking “daft.”
“The idea the Foreign Secretary can’t be trusted because he might pursue his own line or have an independent thought or crossover what the Americans are going to say just makes him look like some sort of mini-me to the United States of America,” he told the Andrew Marr show.
“That’s not a position any Foreign Secretary would want to be in.”
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