A visit by chemical weapons inspectors to the site of a suspected gas attack in Syria was delayed on Monday, British and Russian officials said, as Western powers and Russia traded accusations in the aftermath of retaliatory US -led missile strikes.
Russia's deputy foreign minister said the delay was due to the Western strikes.
The United States, Britain and France launched 105 missiles targeting what the U.S. said were chemical weapon facilities in Syria as a direct retaliation for the gas attack on April 7.
Mr Lavrov also questioned why the USA and its allies carried out air strikes the day before worldwide inspectors were due to arrive at the site. OPCW inspectors have been attacked on two previous missions to the sites of chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad met with members of the watchdog group in their Damascus hotel Sunday. The OPCW previously said that "Syria and Russian Federation were concerned that security on the ground could not be guaranteed" for its team, but Lavrov echoed the Kremlin's prior "fabrication" claims outright.
This comes days after the US, Britain, and France conducted "precision strikes" in Syria on Friday in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government. While some investors are pointing to rising oil prices as a reason to buy assets of the world's biggest energy producer, others warn that Russia's deteriorating relations with the West create too much uncertainty about how far USA penalties will go.
The White House is continuing to debate placing additional sanctions on Russian Federation, clashing with an announcement USA ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley made on Sunday, The Washington Post reported Monday.
"A short time ago, I ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad", Trump said in a televised address from the White House.
The Russian delegation to the OPCW have said that these allegations were groundless and reinforced that Russia has always supported an investigation.
The military action is not about intervening in Syria's civil war or changing its government, she said. The Russian vetoes have been one of the main irritants in strained relations between Washington and Moscow, with Western diplomats accusing Russia of trying to protect the Assad government.
"It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site". "And they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use".
At a Pentagon briefing, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said the targets included a Syrian research facility and a chemical weapons storage facility.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made this clear on Monday as he arrived at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg, telling reporters: "I'm afraid the Syrian war will go on in its frightful, miserable way".
The U.S. ambassador to the OPCW, Kenneth Ward, said there were suspicions that Russian Federation, a longtime ally of the Syrian government, may have tampered with the evidence.
It is barred from having, storing or using nerve agents, and while it is permitted to possess chlorine for civilian uses, is banned from using that chemical as a weapon. Britain's May will make a statement to parliament on Monday on her decision and will repeat her assertion that Assad's forces were highly likely responsible for the attack.
Meanwhile, media reports noted that the United Kingdom government has confirmed a "20-fold" increase in disinformation being spread by Kremlin-linked social media "bot" accounts since the United Kingdom, USA and France attacked Syria's chemical weapons infrastructure on Saturday. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, has questioned the legal basis for Britain's involvement. In France, the conservatives, the far-left and the far-right have all criticised the strikes.