Russia stopped just short of declaring war on the United States and other members of the coalition fighting in Iraq and Syria. The Russian defense ministry declared that any coalition planes flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria will be treated as targets. The announcement came after the US military acknowledged that a US Navy F-18 SuperHornet jet shot down a Russian-made Syrian jet on Sunday that had bombed combatants of the Syrian Democratic Forces -- an armed group aligned with the US.
Russia's defense ministry condemned the downing of the Syrian jet, which had dropped bombs near forces aligned with the US-led coalition. As of Monday, June 19, Russians in the theater of the conflict will track all US and coalition jets and drones flying west of the Euphrates and treat them as targets. Also, the Russians demanded an explanation for the shooting down of the Syrian SU-22. During much of the current conflict between Syrian President Bashr Al-Assad and the rebel forces arrayed against him -- which include the Islamic State (ISIS) -- Russia and the US have provided essential air cover to government forces.
In addition, Russia is ceasing its coordination with the United States in Syria over "de-confliction zones," following the downing of the Syrian jet. after the Americans downed a Syrian government fighter jet.
The United States and Russia have an agreement to prevent aerial incidents involving U.S. and Russia jets engaged in operations in Syria. Russia regards the incident as a "deliberate failure to make good on its commitments" under the de-confliction deal.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov condemned the United States for shooting down the Syrian Air Force jet as an act of "aggression."
On Monday, Ryabkov told Russian news agencies that the shooting down of the Syrian fighter jet was akin to "helping the terrorists that the U.S. is fighting against." He asked, "What is this, if not an act of aggression?"