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MOSCOW: Faced with the threat of a U.S. strike on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin has a dilemma: allow U.S. missiles to hit Moscow's ally without a response or risk a military clash with the United States.If driven into a corner by a U.S. attack, Putin will be unlikely to sit back. A year ago, Putin was nurturing hopes for better ties with the U.S. under President Donald Trump.The head of the Russian military's General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, warned last month that a U.S. strike would threaten Russian military personnel in Syria and draw a Russian counterstrike against both U.S. missiles and the ships and aircraft launching them.The statement signaled Moscow's readiness to protect its ally even if it entails a direct clash with the U.S.With tensions running high, Russian warships sailed out of their base in the Syrian port of Tartus in what retired Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, the head of foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian Parliament, described as a maneuver to avoid a possible U.S. blow.Russia's United Nations Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the top priority is to avert war in Syria and doesn't rule out the possibility of a U.S.-Russian conflict.
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