Russia slams US airstrikes in Middle East as a threat to peace

Russia has strongly criticized the United States for its recent airstrikes in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, saying that they are inflaming the conflict and undermining the peace efforts in the region. Russia also accused the US of violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries it targeted, and of acting against the interests of the international community.

The US carried out several airstrikes in the Middle East in the past week, claiming that they were in response to the attacks by the Iran-backed militias and the Houthi rebels against the US and its allies.

On Feb. 2, the US said it struck 85 targets linked to the Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada militias in Iraq and Syria, in retaliation for a drone strike that killed three US soldiers in Jordan on Jan. 28. The US said the strikes were aimed at degrading the militias’ ability to conduct future attacks and to deter further aggression.

On Feb. 4, the US said it struck 30 targets linked to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, in response to their attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are leading a coalition against the Houthis. The US said the strikes were intended to disrupt the Houthis’ weapons systems and to protect the freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.

The US defended its actions as necessary and proportionate, and as consistent with its right to self-defense and its obligations to its partners. The US also said that its strikes were not meant to escalate the situation, but to restore deterrence and stability in the region.

The Russian reaction and its implications

Russia condemned the US airstrikes as illegal and provocative, and as a threat to the peace and security of the Middle East. Russia also questioned the US motives and objectives, and suggested that the US was trying to preserve its dominance and influence in the region, and to interfere with the political and diplomatic processes.

On Feb. 3, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement, saying that the US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria were “a gross violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of these states, as well as a flagrant breach of international law.” The statement also said that the US actions were “inflaming the conflict and creating additional obstacles for the establishment of a dialogue between all the parties concerned.”

On Feb. 5, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, spoke at a Security Council meeting, saying that the US airstrikes in Yemen were “a dangerous escalation that threatens to undermine the efforts of the UN and the international community to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Yemeni crisis.” He also said that the US actions were “contrary to the interests of the Yemeni people and the neighboring countries.”

Russia also warned the US of the potential consequences of its airstrikes, and called on the US to respect the sovereignty and independence of the countries in the region, and to cooperate with the UN and other actors to promote dialogue and peace.

Russia’s criticism of the US airstrikes reflects its rivalry and competition with the US in the Middle East, where both countries have different allies and interests. Russia is a close ally of Iran and Syria, and a supporter of the Houthi rebels, while the US is a close ally of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and a supporter of the Iraqi government and the anti-Houthi coalition.

Russia’s criticism also reflects its desire to play a more active and influential role in the region, and to present itself as a mediator and a peacemaker. Russia has been involved in several diplomatic initiatives and negotiations in the region, such as the Astana process on Syria, the Moscow format on Afghanistan, and the Geneva consultations on Yemen.

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