Russia Warns Any Attempt By Obama To Arm Syrian Rebels Will Be Seen As A “Hostile Act”
First, it was China which lodged a protest against the US defense bill, which was signed by Barack Obama late on Friday and which, among other things, contained a provision to establish as US “ministry of truth” and media propaganda. On Sunday, China lodged “stern representations” with the United States after Obama signed the NDAA into law which suggests a plan to conduct high-level military exchanges with self-ruled Taiwan. Part of the $618.7 billion National Defense Authorization Act “expresses the sense of Congress that (the U.S. Department of Defense) should conduct a program of senior military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan“.
In other words, it appears the Trump team is not the only one jeopardising the “One China” policy: as Reuters adds, in a statement late Sunday, China’s Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a protest with the United States over the Taiwan content of the act and expressed its strong opposition. Taiwan is Chinese territory and purely an internal matter, the ministry said.
It noted that the part of the defense policy bill referring to Taiwan was not legally binding, but said it was an interference with China’s internal affairs that China could not accept.
“We urge the U.S. side to abide by its promises made to China on the Taiwan issue, stop U.S.-Taiwan military contacts and arms sales to Taiwan, to avoid damaging Sino-U.S. ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
Then, overnight, Russia also joined the global opposition to the US defense policy bill when it said on Tuesday that a U.S. decision to ease some restrictions on arming Syrian rebels had opened the way for deliveries of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, a move it said would directly threaten Russian forces in Syria.
According to Reuters, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the policy change easing some restrictions on weapons supplies to rebels was set out in a new U.S. defense spending bill signed by Obama while on his last vacation as US president in Hawaii, and that Moscow regarded the step as a hostile act.
Rebel fighter clean a weapon in al-Rai town, northern Aleppo countryside,
Syria December 25, 2016, Reuters photo
“In the administration of B. Obama they must understand that any weapons handed over will quickly end up in the hands of jihadists with whom the sham ‘moderate’ opposition have long acted jointly,” Zakharova said in a statement. “Such a decision is a direct threat to the Russian air force, to other Russian military personnel, and to our embassy in Syria, which has come under fire more than once. We therefore view the step as a hostile one.”
Cited by Reuters, Zakharova accused the Obama administration of trying to “put a mine” under the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump by attempting to get it to continue what she called Washington’s “anti-Russian line.”
To be sure, any sabotage attempts by Obama be faced with an uphill climb: a back-and-forth exchange between Trump and Putin over nuclear weapons last week tested the Republican’s promises to improve relations with Russia.
The Obama administration and U.S. intelligence officials have accused Russia of trying to interfere with the U.S. election by hacking Democratic Party accounts. Russia, meanwhile, has laughed at these accusations, and last week Putin slammed the Democrats as “shameless losers” in his annual year-end press conference, saying “the party that is called the Democrats has clearly forgotten the original meaning of that name” and added that “the use of administrative resources (by the Democrats) is absolutely shameless.”
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