Donald Trump has said US-Russia relations might be at “an all time low”, after the two countries clashed over the future of Syria and Russia vetoed a UN resolution condemning the chemical attack there.
The attack is the latest diplomatic flashpoint between the West and Russia, which backs Syrian dictator Assad, whom the Americans blame for gassing a rebel-held town and killing scores of people, including more than 30 children.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had said his country agreed a UN investigation into the attack just hours before it vetoed the resolution, which also called for an investigation, on Wednesday.
Earlier on Wednesday, US Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson said the “reign of the Assad family is coming to an end” but also acknowledged US-Russia relations were marked by a “low point” of trust.
He had spent two hours in Moscow meeting with Lavrov and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“The world’s two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship,” he said at a press conference afterwards.
Back in Washington, Trump said: “We’re not getting on with Russia at all. It may be an all time low.”
Boris Johnson said vetoing the UN resolution “puts Russia on the wrong side of the argument”.
He said Russia was “collaborating with Assad who is the biggest terrorist of all”.
He tweeted his anger that it had “has again frustrated the international community in its condemnation of the use of chemical weapons”.
He told Sky News: “It was once again only the Russians that were the significant country to veto this. Even the Chinese, who are normally their ally, abstained.
“The question for the Russians is, how can they continue to support a regime that is willing to gas it’s own people with weapons that should have been banned 100 years ago.”
He added it was “highly likely” the Assad regime was behind the chemical attack, which prompted the US to attack a regime airbase in retaliation.
The Foreign Secretary had previously failed to convince the G7 meeting to impose sanctions on Russia for its support of Assad.
Trump was at a joint press conference on Wednesday with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Trump had called the military alliance, which is a bulwark against Russia, “obsolete” while campaigning for the presidency.
But he reversed his position at the conference, telling journalists: “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”
He called Assad a “butcher” for his treatment of the Syrian people.