(CNN)Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov began a meeting with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson in Moscow with a warning — do not strike the Syrian regime again.
The two top diplomats are sitting down together in Moscow on Wednesday for what are expected to be painstaking talks, after a chemical attack in northwestern Syria plunged the old Cold War enemies to a new low.
The two countries have traded barbs over last week’s chemical attack, which killed 89 people, and prompted the US to carry out its first strike against the Syrian regime in the six-year conflict, taking out aircraft and infrastructure at a Syrian military air base.
The White House on Tuesday accused Russia and Syria of carrying out a confusion campaign over who was responsible for the chemical attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made comparisons between the US response and its 2003 intervention in Iraq, calling it a “tedious” story.
The deaths have been widely blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, but Russia, Assad’s most powerful ally, has denied the regime carried out the attack.
Lavrov said Wednesday that Russia “saw some very troubling actions regarding the attack on Syria.”
“We believe it is fundamentally important not to let these actions happen again,” Lavrov said, according to an official Russian interpreter.
He also complained about the mixed messages coming out of Washington on the Trump administration’s policy on Syria, with the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, making clear Assad should have no future in Syria as Tillerson took a softer line.
“I will be frank that we had a lot of questions regarding a lot of very ambiguous as well as contradictory ideas on a whole plethora of bilateral and international agenda coming from Washington,” Lavrov said.