G-7 member nations met in Italy on April 9 to discuss the possibility of new sanctions against Russia for its support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States discussed a range of options without taking action.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson then left for Moscow to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. As he began his trip, he sounded a pessimistic note.
It is unclear whether Russia had failed to take seriously its obligation to rid Syria of chemical weapons,” the Associated Press reported, “or had merely been incompetent.” But he said the distinction “doesn’t matter much to the dead.”
The G-7 group supported earlier sanctions put in place in 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimea region of the Ukraine. Just ahead of Tillerson’s arrival in Moscow, the Russian embassy in London noted that any G-7 decision to impose new sanctions “brings us to real war.”
In addition, a joint statement by Russia, Syria and Iran warned that the U.S. missile strike on the Syrian air base had crossed a “red line.” They promised any future U.S. military attack would be met with force.
While in Moscow, Tillerson met with not only Lavrov but also Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Putin meeting lasted for two hours. In a press conference with Lavrov, Tillerson acknowledged that U.S.-Russian relations were at a “low point.”
For some time, Russia has taken a more aggressive military posture throughout the world. Its naval activity around Europe has gone above levels seen during the Cold War. Russia claims it can conduct combat activities against the Baltic States with 24 to 48 hours notice.
In return, NATO has built up its presence in the Baltic States. As of April 3, it also had put more than 1,100 troops into Poland, which is buying $7.6 billion worth of Patriot air defense missiles to protect itself against Russian aggression.
Russia also has become much bolder in terms of its military posture versus the United States and its allies. For two nights this week, Russian long-range bombers have flown off the coast of Alaska, coming within 36 miles of the mainland while flying north of the Aleutian Islands.
The last time Russian military aircraft came that close to the United States was July 4, 2015, when a pair of Russian bombers flew off the coasts of Alaska and California, coming as close as 40 miles to Mendocino, California.
Earlier this year, Russian jets buzzed American ships in the Mediterranean Sea, and a Russian spy ship was spotted off the United States east coast.
During Tillerson’s visit in Moscow, three Russian bombers flew near the east coast of Japan. Japanese fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the Russian bombers, without any incident.
The increased tensions might prompt a meeting between President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin sooner rather than later. Trump has voiced his desire for peace and improved relations.
The new Cold War certainly demolishes the Democrat allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Source: Money Morning