By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Friday that a new Cold War has begun in the wake of a deadly suspected chemical attack that has prompted warnings of military action by the West.
"The Cold War is back — with a vengeance but with a difference," Guterres told the Security Council during a meeting requested by Russia. "The mechanisms and the safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present."
International tensions have run high following an attack on the Syrian city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta last Saturday night.
The White Helmets, a civil defense agency, blamed the Bashar al-Assad regime for the alleged chemical attack, which it said killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of others.
U.S. President Donald Trump warned Russia that U.S. missiles "will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'" in response to the attack, but the White House has since said the president has yet to make a final decision on possible military action in Syria.
Addressing the Security Council, Vassily Nebenzia, Russia's UN envoy, lashed out at Washington, accusing it of a "reckless" response "unworthy of their status as a permanent member" of the Security Council.
Nebenzia insisted there is "no credible confirmation" of the Douma attack, just hours after Russia's foreign minister claimed it was orchestrated by a Western “special service”.
"The special services of one state which is now eager to be in the forefront of the Russophobic campaign had their hand in it," Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.
Nikki Haley, the U.S.' UN envoy, responded to Russia's criticisms, telling the Security Council: "Russia can complain all it wants about fake news, but no one is buying its lies and cover-ups".
“I am in awe, Vasilly, how you say what you say with a straight face. I really am,” she said in remarks addressed to Nebenzia. “Everything the United Nations stands for is being defied in Syria.”