In Moscow, a Sense of Relief After a Limited Syria Attack

In Moscow, a Sense of Relief After a Limited Syria Attack Photo President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia meeting with the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, on Saturday. Mr. Putin issued an unusually rapid condemnation of the airstrikes against Syria. Credit Michael Klimentyev/Sputnik, via Reuters MOSCOW — Moscow met the limited American-led airstrikes against Syria before dawn on Saturday with plenty of bluster and heated rhetoric, starting with an uncharacteristically quick response from President Vladimir V. Putin condemning the attack and accusing the United States of aggravating the humanitarian situation.
But there was also a palpable sense of relief.
The sun was barely up before the Defense Ministry, not famous for speedy reactions, pumped out a statement underscoring that none of the thousands of Russian troops garrisoned in Syria had been threatened by the American, British and French attack and that none of its air defense systems had been mobilized.
“It looks like both sides wer..

News Analysis: ‘Mission Accomplished!’ But What Is the Mission in Syria?

‘Mission Accomplished!’ But What Is the Mission in Syria? Photo President Trump at the White House on Friday. Mr. Trump tweeted “Mission Accomplished!” the morning after the attacks in Syria. Credit Tom Brenner/The New York Times WASHINGTON — On the morning after, President Trump declared success. The surgical strike against chemical weapons facilities in Syria had been executed perfectly, he said on Saturday. “Mission Accomplished!” he wrote on Twitter.
That’s a phrase presidents and politicians have studiously avoided since President George W. Bush’s ill-fated aircraft carrier visit prematurely declaring success in the Iraq war. But aside from the curious choice of words, it raised the essential question regarding Syria going beyond the one-time strike: What exactly is the mission?
For most of Mr. Trump’s presidency, it has been to defeat the Islamic State and then get out. But what Mr. Trump outlined in his televised speech to the nation on Friday night was something more complicate..

News Analysis: From One Attack in Syria, a World of Potential Risks

From One Attack in Syria, a World of Potential Risks Photo “No amount of American blood or treasure can produce lasting peace and security in the Middle East,” President Trump said in his statement announcing the airstrikes. “It’s a troubled place. We will try to make it better, but it is a troubled place.” Credit Tom Brenner/The New York Times BEIRUT, Lebanon — For the second time in just over a year, President Trump, in sending missiles crashing into Syrian military targets, added American firepower to one of the most complex and multisided conflicts in a generation.
One immediate question was whether the strikes could actually accomplish the stated goal of diminishing Syria’s capacity to make and use chemical weapons. But the new strikes also posed the risk of drawing the United States even more deeply into a conflict in which Russia and Iran — who warned Mr. Trump not to intervene — have more invested than ever in keeping President Bashar al-Assad in power.
The strikes hit Syria be..