‘Nobody’s tougher!’ Trump recalls ‘severe fight’ with Russians & ‘absolute precision’ Syria strike
Trump’s urge to reassure the US media of his “toughness” forced him back to the podium at the end of the joint conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Florida on Wednesday.
“There has been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump,” the US leader said. “With the media, no matter what I did, it is never tough enough, because that is their narrative. But Russia will tell you there has been nobody tougher than Donald Trump … We will do sanctions as soon as they very much deserve it...” Trump added.
To further emphasize his arduous relations with Moscow, Trump reiterated unsubstantiated claims about deadly clashes between Russian and US troops in Syria. “We had a very, very severe... fight in Syria recently, a month ago, with our troops and Russian troops. It is very sad but many people died in that fight. There has been nobody tougher than me,” the billionaire president said, without providing further details.
There has been no official confirmation that US troops and the Russian military have directly clashed in Syria. In March, some US news outlets reported that a number of Russian servicemen were allegedly killed in a massive US airstrike on “pro-Assad forces” near the Euphrates River. Defense Secretary James Mattis could not confirm those claims. Moscow confirmed that “several” Russian citizens were indeed among those killed and injured but said none of them were active Russian servicemen.
While Moscow is doing everything possible not to escalate tensions that could potentially lead to direct confrontation, Washington’s actions continue to destabilize the situation. Trump on Wednesday made clear that the joint US-British-French April 14 strike against Syria was aimed not only against Assad – but was also a show of force to Russia.
“And then the other night, we had a strike in Syria which was absolute precision,” Trump noted during his tirade about the “tough” approach to Moscow.
“Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!' You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” Trump tweeted just days before the strike.
“The unmatched skill of the United States military and our great partners and allies was demonstrated to the entire world – missiles were shot, they tried to knock them down – they weren't in the least successful,” Trump said at the conference. “They hit none,” he proclaimed, in contradiction to the Russian military’s assessment of the low success rate of the US-led attack.
Earlier, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, noted that Syrian air defenses had intercepted a total of 71 out of the 103 missiles launched against the country by the US, UK and France. According to Moscow, none of the Russian anti-air assets had to be scrambled or activated, since the coalition targeted only low-priority targets outside of Russia’s zone of responsibility, and Damascus managed to repel the attack on its own using the Soviet-era equipment at its disposal.
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