Washington–Tension escalated between Washington and Moscow regarding Russia’s intensifying military preparations in Syria especially after the announcement of the suspension of participation in bilateral channels established to sustain the cessation of hostilities.
A State Department spokesman said the U.S. would now be “looking at a range of options” for further diplomatic solutions to the crisis, and suggested closer contact with the International Syria Support Group, a loose coalition of regional and global players that includes Russia, the U.S., China, the U.N. and the EU, in addition to a unilateral solution for the crisis in Syria.
The U.S. official told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper: “The U.S. administration is now considering options and alternatives, but in the end it is up to President (Barack) Obama to decide how to move forward.”
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said: “We haven’t permanently closed the door, but I think we would need to see something – some action by Russia or the regime, or both, that really led us to believe that there was any reason to pursue it again.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his counterpart John Kerry discussed the crisis in Ukraine and cooperation in the U.N. Security Council on North Korea during a phone conversation, which was organized at the request of the U.S. side, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.
Toner said the government departments and agencies were discussing “diplomatic, military, intelligence, and economic options” in response to the situation.
Toner added that the U.S. still believes that the agreement with Russia could have offered the best solution to move forward with the political process.
“But essentially our view remains the same,” Toner said.
The spokesperson stressed that the American administration is still considering options but: “Our stress is still on a political resolution.”
Toner hinted to enforcing economic sanctions on Syria which should be applied internationally to be more effective.
Earlier, Russia announced it is deploying advanced S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria.
The U.S. State spokesperson said: “Last I checked, the Russians said that their primary goal was to fight extremism, ISIS and Nusra, in Syria … Neither one has an air force.”
Toner confirmed that the U.S. will continue to support groups fighting ISIS and will continue to attack its sites.