Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the military's General Staff speaks during a briefing at the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
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Facing a stark choice between engaging the United States, Britain and France in combat or passively watching them strike his ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin has opted for the peaceful route.Putin condemned Saturday's strikes as an "act of aggression" that will worsen the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and have a "destructive influence on the entire system of international relations".Russian social media buzzed Saturday with angry nationalist comments blasting Putin for failing to protect his ally.State TV channels compared what they described as U.S. President Donald Trump's reckless action with the responsible, statesmanlike stance taken by Putin.No military measures were immediately announced, but in a clear warning to the U.S. and its allies, Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military's General Staff said Moscow could boost Syria's Soviet-era air defense assets with batteries of state-of-the-art S-300 missiles.The statement clearly was aimed at discouraging the West from more attacks on Syria that could endanger President Bashar Assad's gains on the battlefield, where Russian support has helped him secure control of most strategic areas.
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