Despite the warnings and rhetoric, Russia may be hesitant to take action that would escalate conflict with the United States in Syria.
The U.S. launched a major missile strike Thursday night on a Syrian air base following a chemical attack blamed on Syria that killed dozens, including children, earlier in the week. President Donald Trump pinned those deaths on Syrian President Bashar Assad, a leader Moscow has supported during a yearslong, seemingly intractable Syrian civil war. The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called the strike an "egregious and obvious violation of international law," while Moscow suspended an agreement aimed to prevent U.S. fighter jets from coming into conflict with Russian planes. Russia signaled that the attack could worsen relations between Washington and Moscow.
Still, actions from both Russia and the United States suggest the two countries don't want tension between them to increase any further, said Olga Oliker, senior advisor and director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan research organization.
"I don't think they want escalation. I think they want to deter escalation," Oliker said.
She noted that the U.S. warned Russia about the strike before it came, limiting its potential damage. Russia may have been able to use air defense systems at the base, where it has equipment, and decided not to, Oliker added.
Russia also took steps to publicly "diminish the effects of the strike," she said. For example, the U.S. said that all but one of the 59 missiles launched hit their targets, but Russia's Defense Ministry said only 23 of the missiles reached the base.