Latest: Putin hopes 'common sense' will prevail in the world, reports say

    Story so far:
  • Putin hopes 'common sense' will prevail in 'chaotic' modern world, Russian media reports
  • Russian Military to deploy troops to Douma
  • Syrian government calls US threats to attack "reckless"
  • Trump says missiles 'will be coming' in response to Russian warning
  • Russia warns the US not to take military action in response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria

5.30pm: Putin hopes 'common sense' will prevail in the world, reports say

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he hopes "common sense" will prevail in the modern world, Russian media outlets are reporting.

Russia Today details comments made by Mr Putin during a ceremony to welcome new ambassadors to Russia.

“The state of world affairs invokes nothing but concerns, the situation in the world is becoming more chaotic,” Putin is reported to have said.

Nevertheless, we still hope that common sense will eventually prevail and international relations will enter a constructive course, the entire world system will become more stable and predictable.

“We will pursue a positive, future-oriented agenda for the world; and work to ensure stable development, prosperity and the flourishing of mankind."

3.30pm: Russian military to deploy troops to Syrian town; Syrian government calls US threats 'reckless'

The Russian military has said it will deploy troops to the Syrian town of Douma, which was the site of Saturday's purported chemical attack.

The Associated Press is reporting that Lieutenant General Viktor Poznikhir of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces said today that Russian military police will deploy to Douma tomorrow to ensure security of the town.

Poznikhir is reported to have said that 41,213 people, including 3,354 rebels and 8,642 members of their families have left Douma with the Russian military’s assistance.

File photo of a Russian army convoy.

1.30pm: Syrian government calls US threats 'reckless'; Trump says missiles 'will be coming'

The Syrian government has called US threats to attack "reckless", saying they endanger international peace and security.

A source at the Foreign Ministry is reported as saying that threats from Washington are hindering the government’s efforts to fight “terrorism.”

Syria and its ally Russia have rejected allegations by activists and rescuers that a chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma over the weekend killed more than 40 people.

11.30: Trump says missiles 'will be coming' in response to Russian warning about Syria; Russia warns the US not to respond to Syria 'chemical attack'

US President Donald Trump has responded after Russia warned the US against military strikes in Syria, saying missiles "will be coming".

In a tweet, Mr Trump told Russia to "get ready" as "nice and new and 'smart'" missiles "will be coming".

"You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it," he said.

His message comes in response to a warning given by Russia to the US not to take military action in Syria.

Mr Trump subsequently tweeted that the US relationship with Russia "is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War".

This morning, the World Health Organisation expressed its concern about the suspected chemical attacks, saying it was "deeply alarmed".

It detailed reports from Health Cluster partners which said that during Saturday's shelling of Douma, an estimated 500 patients who visited health facilities exhibited "signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals".

Russia UN envoy Vasily Nebenzia

Earlier: Russia warns the US not to respond to Syria 'chemical attack' Russia has urged the US not to take military action in response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria, saying that Washington would be responsible for any "illegal military adventure".

The warning came as rival US and Russian resolutions to determine responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria suffered defeats at the UN Security Council meeting last night.

Moscow's UN envoy Vasily Nebenzia said this was a result that the Trump administration wanted so it can "justify the use of force against Syria".

The Security Council also rejected another Russian-drafted resolution that would have welcomed an investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of allegations of a weekend chemical attack in the suburbs of Syria's capital.

The US, Britain and France opposed the measure, saying that the investigators are already headed there and that the text did not include a new way to assess blame for chemical attacks.

Leaders form the three countries say they will work together, with US officials saying that the US, France and Britain were in extensive consultations about launching a military strike as early as the end of this week.

President Emmanuel Macron said France, the US and Britain will decide how to respond in the coming days.

He called for a "strong and joint response" to the attack in the Syrian town of Douma on Saturday, which Syrian activists and rescuers say killed 40 people. The Syrian government denies responsibility.

President Trump spoke by phone with Prime Minister Theresa May. A British government statement said the two agreed the attack in Syria was "utterly reprehensible" and that the international community must respond "to uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons".

Mr Trump has promised a "forceful" response and has cancelled a foreign trip in order to manage the crisis.

The Council has met four times in the past week on chemical weapons in Syria, with the US, Britain and France facing off against Russia, Syrian president Bashar Assad's key ally that insists no chemical attack took place in the Douma suburb.

As tensions escalate over possible US-led military reprisals for the suspected attack, the UN's most powerful body remained paralysed, unable to overcome its deep divisions that have been a hallmark of its debates during the seven years of conflict in Syria.

Sweden's ambassador, Olof Skoog, who tried unsuccessfully to find a compromise solution, told the council after the third vote that he was disappointed.

"I just hope that we do not consider this the end when it comes to ensuring that the facts are established and that there is a true accountability and no more impunity for the horrendous use of chemical weapons in Syria and elsewhere," Mr Skoog said.

After the defeat of Russia's second resolution, Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said to US ambassador Nikki Haley: "I would once again ask you, once again beseech you, to refrain from the plans that you're currently developing for Syria."

The threats of US military action against Syria "should make us seriously worried, all of us," Mr Nebenzia said.

In Tuesday's first vote, Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution that would have condemned the suspected Douma attack in the strongest terms and established a new independent and impartial investigative body to determine responsibility for Syrian chemical attacks.

The vote was 12 in favour, with Bolivia joining Russia in voting "no" and China abstaining.

"History will record that, on this day, Russia chose protecting a monster over the lives of the Syrian people," Ms Haley said, referring to Syrian president Bashar Assad.

She said the United States "went the extra mile" to get Russian support for the resolution to ensure that a new investigative body would be impartial, independent and professional - provisions she said were not in the rival Russian resolution.

Ms Haley said the Russian draft would have allowed Russia to choose the investigators and assess the outcome of the investigation. "Does any of that sound independent or impartial?"

Mr Nebenzia accused the United States of trying to mislead the international community and said it is "taking one more step toward confrontation".

He said the US and its allies did not need a resolution to determine responsibility because it was already blaming Syria and Russia.

"You do not want to hear the fact that no traces of a chemical attack were found in Douma," Mr Nebenzia said.

"You simply have been looking for a pretext" and want the resolution to fail "to justify the use of force against Syria".

A joint UN-OPCW investigative team accused Syria of using chlorine gas in at least two attacks in 2014 and 2015 and the nerve agent sarin in an aerial attack on Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017 that killed about 100 people and affected about 200 others. The latter attack led to a US airstrike on a Syrian airfield.

The team also accused the Islamic State extremist group of using mustard gas twice in 2015 and 2016.

Russia rejected the findings on Syria's culpability and vetoed a Western-backed resolution in November that would have renewed the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM).

Mr Nebenzia told the council the US resolution was trying to recreate the JIM, which he said "became a puppet in the hands of anti-Damascus forces".

The rival Russian resolutions - on a new accountability body and the OPCW fact-finding mission - both failed to get the required nine "yes" votes needed for adoption. The US, Britain and France voted against both measures but did not have to use their vetoes.

Mr Nebenzia and Syrian ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said that despite the council's failure to welcome the OPCW fact-finding mission, its investigators are heading to Syria with support from both Russia and Syria.

Mr Nebenzia said two groups of OPCW experts could be on the ground "as early as this week".

- Digital Desk and Press Association


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