The shelling by the US Tomahawks of the Syrian Air Force base Shayrat represents a milestone turn in the internal and external policies of the Trump administration. From an internal policy view, this means the final victory of the American establishment over Trump. We can now say that the Trump administration has become an ordinary Republican administration, where key decisions are now taken by the vice president Pence and Defense Minister Mattis. People close to Trump are pushed into the background, Dmitry Suslov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, said in an interview to valdaiclub.com.
As to the US foreign policy, these missile strikes indicate that the administration will continue to pursue a policy only in the interests of the American Republican establishment in a "Bush-Lite" style, using military force, neglecting the opinion of allies and partners, ignoring international law. The Trump administration will independently decide how to use military force, refusing any preliminary consultations. Now we can forget such factors as the de-ideologized US foreign policy and refusal to forcible regime changes in other countries.
For Russia, the US is becoming an extremely dangerous and complex partner. Strikes against the Syrian airfield threaten further escalation of confrontation. Russian-American relations are becoming increasingly tense, both countries will literally balance on the verge of using military force against each other. A colossal blow was struck on mutual trust, this did not even happen under the Obama administration. The American-Russian cooperation on Syria is now excluded. As to Ukraine, everything will be also blocked.
In Syria there are Russian troops and powerful air defense complexes. If the military actions against the Assad regime continue, Russia will have to take countermeasures, because it defends the sovereignty of the country against acts of aggression. We can feel the most acute military confrontation between Russia and the United States since the Cuban crisis of 1962. The direct military clash between Russia and the United States, which seemed unlikely with the arrival of the Trump administration, is now possible.
The most reasonable way now would be the beginning of intensive Russian-American consultations, as it was in 2013 on the issue of chemical weapons in Syria. However, the Trump administration is hardly interested in this and will continue to blame Russia for everything. Washington will not negotiate, be it intelligence data sharing or chemical disarmament.
For Russia, there are two ways - to surrender, which is absolutely unacceptable in light of what Moscow has achieved in Syria today, or to maintain the current status quo, defending the Syrian regime. Russia must quickly build up its military presence in the country and make it clear that the Russian Air Force can shoot down American aircraft if they appear in Syrian airspace. Such a tough stance can cool down hotheads in the Trump administration, but, on the other hand, can put Russia on the brink of war with the US. As in 1962, in an extremely dangerous confrontation, we will have to look for more reasonable solutions. However, given the impulsiveness and unpredictability of Trump, there may be little chances. Perhaps Secretary of State Tillerson will bring to Moscow possible options to resolve the Syrian crisis.