Syria: Trump doesn't stop, sanctions against Moscow

Macron says he convinced him to stay longer

16 April, 10:43

    (by Ugo Caltagirone) (ANSAmed) - NEW YORK, APRIL 16 - After missile strikes on Syria, US President Donald Trump is ready to impose new sanctions against Russia for being an ''accomplice'' in the use of chemical weapons. The move is set to further harshen tensions between Washington and Moscow, which have never been so high in decades. The bond between Moscow and Tehran has instead grown stronger, with a call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani to discuss the risk of chaos over US raids described as ''illegal''. French President Emmanuel Macron however opened to Russia and Iran, calling for dialogue ''to build a lasting solution for Syria''. And Macron also said he convinced Trump to stay in the country ''longer'': ''Ten days ago the American president said that the US meant to disengage from Syria. We convinced him that it was necessary to stay'', Macron said in a television interview. We also convinced him that it was necessary to limit attacks with chemical weapons while there was an escalation in a number of tweets that will not have escaped your attention''.

    Defense Secretary James Mattis had explicitly said so in an address to Congress: options to respond to the chemical attack on Douma on the table of the Oval Office were many and not only military but also diplomatic and economic. And then US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, announced the new measures in an interview to ABC, which should be officially announced soon by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

    The sanctions, explained Haley, will directly strike Russian companies that helped the Syrian government to produce and use chemical weapons, also providing the technology and equipment. A number of entities that have allegedly dealt with the Syrian chemical program should also be affected.

    Moscow's reaction was swift: ''The US wan to punish Russia just for being a global actor'' and for this reason are approving further sanctions that ''have no connection to reality'', said the spokeswoman of the Russian foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova in an interview to the first channel of Russian television. Meanwhile the Russian parliament is getting ready to approve counter-sanctions against the US, limiting US imports of tobacco, food and various agricultural products.

    Meanwhile, while Assad told a delegation of Russian politicians that the raids only ''united Syria'', a strong arm is continuing at the UN, where a new draft resolution prepared by the US, France and the UK is ready. The text, to be presented over the next few hours at the Security Council, provides for the start of an independent investigation on the attack on Douma with OPCW inspectors who will have 30 days to report whether Damascus said the truth on its arsenal.

    On the humanitarian front, it asks for the possibility to evacuate the populations affected by the civil war for health reasons and for safe passages for aid convoys that will need an authorization to reach all areas.

    The draft document also asks for a resolution on a ceasefire approved in February to be implemented and urges the Assad government to engage in UN-sponsored peace talks ''constructively, in good faith and without preconditions''.

    It is still unclear when the vote will take place: according to UN diplomatic sources, the allies are ready to give time to negotiations in an attempt to obtain a green light from Russia.

    Since the start of the conflict in Syria, in fact, Moscow has used its veto power 12 times, including six for resolutions concerning chemical weapons, de facto paralyzing the council's action. (ANSAmed).

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