A senior Russian official tweeted an undiplomatic description of the United States and its allies on Wednesday, accusing it of behaving like “a monkey with a grenade” in the Muslim world. This, as Russia began to evacuate its citizens from Syria in advance of a possible U.S. military strike.
“The West behaves towards the Islamic world like a monkey with a grenade,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin wrote on Twitter. The deputy prime minister is “known for his sharp tongue,” the Agence France-Presse news agency reported.
Russian officials say dozens of its citizens have been evacuated from Syria in the past few days as the U.S. and European allies debate military intervention in the civil war that has killed more than 100,000.
The Associated Press quoted figures from the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry which reported evacuating 89 people, 75 of them Russians, from Syria on Tuesday. More were expected to depart the country Wednesday.
A Russian government Ilyushin-76 aircraft landed in Syria Tuesday to deliver food aid and is expected to evacuate Russian and other citizens out of the country on its return to Russia.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov released a statement Wednesday warning against American military involvement which, in his words, “will lead to the long-term destabilization of the situation in the country and the region.”
Tens of thousands of Russian citizens live in Syria, according to the AP, which describes the close bonds based on “the legacy of years of cooperation and exchange between the two countries.”
The undiplomatic language emerging from Moscow comes as observers warn direct U.S. military involvement in the conflict could reignite Cold War tensions between Washington and Moscow.