In retaliation for the brutal air campaign waged by Russia on ISIS/ISIL, the terror group vowed to destroy the entire Russian state, while Moscow and Washington remain at odds over Kremlin intervention in Syria, and other national defense issues—some with global implications.
After weeks of relentless air strikes that have reportedly weakened its grip on Syria and severely damaged its infrastructure, ISIS threatened to strike at Russia’s heart by conducting terror attacks within the country. A video released by the group on Thursday, threatened to launch attacks against Russia “very soon.”
In the video entitled “Soon Very Soon the Blood Will Spill like an Ocean,” stock footage of Russian cities are the backdrop to a voice-over of a chant in Russian. Although the video was posted on ISIS-affiliated social media sites, its authenticity has not yet been verified by Russian intelligence, according to the Sputnik news agency.
Despite Russia’s seemingly effective bombing campaign, U.S. officials maintain that it is also targeting non-ISIS forces. Russia continues to deny the allegations, saying it is only conducting strikes against “terrorists.” Such statements have been a source of contention between the U.S. and Russia due to Moscow’s somewhat ambiguous definition of what it perceives as a terrorist.
However, the apparent successes of the U.S. and Russia in the fight against ISIS is being subverted by a lack of meaningful military cooperation. This, along with tensions concerning perceived strategic military escalations between the two powers, threatens to overshadow any gains in Syria.
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia is deploying weapons capable of penetrating the U.S.-proposed NATO missile defense system. According to the Washington Post, Putin said that the U.S. is attempting to “neutralize” Russia’s nuclear deterrent by developing such technology.
“Over the past three years, companies of the military-industrial complex have created and successfully tested a number of prospective weapons systems that are capable of performing combat missions in a layered missile defense system. Such systems have already begun to enter the military this year. And now we are talking about development of new types of weapons,” Putin said, according to the Post.
Putin’s announcement underscores the continuing buildup of tensions between Washington and Moscow, prompting concerns that another Cold War, or even possibly direct combat, could be on the horizon. As saber-rattling over strategic dominance continues to escalate, the situation in Syria has also intensified.
The Pentagon announced that the military will be ramping up its presence and participation in the conflict by deploying more troops to the region. Although officials stopped short of calling the new mission in Syria “boots on the ground,” in contradiction of President Obama’s pledge, the implications of expanded military operations could signal a major turning point in U.S. policy toward the conflict.