WH Working to Keep 'Lines of Communication Open With Russia'

By Melanie Arter | June 19, 2017 | 4:42 PM EDT

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (Screenshot of C-SPAN video)

(CNSNews.com) - The White House said Monday the U.S. will do everything it can to protect its interests and to keep the lines of communication open with Russia. This after Russia threatened to shoot down any U.S.-led coalition aircraft that flies west of the Euphrates River.

As CNSNews.com reported, the U.S. downed a Syrian plane flying over Syria after the regime of Bashar al-Assad dropped bombs near U.S.-backed rebels near the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.

Russia said as a result, it was closing down its deconfliction channel, which is used to prevent U.S. and Russian planes from accidentally targeting each other.

The Russian Defense Ministry said U.S. attacks against Syrian forces were considered "military aggression."

"All flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected west of the Euphrates, will be followed by Russian air defense systems as targets," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

"Obviously, we're going to do everything we can to protect our interests, and this is something that we're going to continue to work with to keep the lines of communication open. ISIS represents as you know a threat to all nations, so we gotta do what we can to work with partners and to continue to keep an open line of communication with the Russians," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in an off-camera press gaggle when asked how the U.S. would respond to Russia's threat.

When asked whether the U.S. would change its flight patterns as a result, Spicer said the question is more appropriate for the Department of Defense to answer, adding, "but I think obviously, it's important crucially to keep the lines of communications open to deconflict potential issues."

Asked whether the U.S. would issue a warning to the Russian government if it were to follow through on the threat, Spicer said, "I think the escalation of hostilities among the many factions that are operating in this region doesn't help anybody, and the Syrian regime and others in the regime need to understand that we will retain the right to self-defense in coalition forces against ISIS."