As reports broke about what appears to be yet another chemical weapons attack carried out against civilians by Bashar al Assad’s Syrian regime, questions immediately began to rise about an American response. President Trump has already demonstrated a willingness to use kinetic force against Syrian assets believed to be responsible for chemical weapon attacks, and rhetoric from senior defense officials within his cabinet like Defense Secretary James Mattis has demonstrated no shift from that hard line in the months since.

Further, in statements made in the past few days, the United States has made it clear that, although Assad’s regime may have been responsible for the attack, it was made possible through Russia’s military and diplomatic support.

“The first thing we have to look at is why are chemical weapons still being used at all when Russia was the framework guarantor of removing all chemical weapons, and so working with our allies and partners from NATO to Qatar and elsewhere we are going to address this issue,” James Mattis told reporters on Sunday.

Even President Trump, who has been criticized for giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a wide berth in the past, cited the Russian leader by name in his condemnation of the attack on Twitter over the weekend, calling Assad an “animal” and Putin, along with Iran, responsible.

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria,” Trump tweeted. “Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price…”

He continued in another tweet, “….to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!”

Russia, however, has denied that any chemical weapon attack has taken place at all, attributing the images and videos of dead men, women and children while others convulse and foam from the mouths to propaganda created by a great “Western conspiracy” that aims to discredit leaders like Putin, Assad, and Kim Jong Un. In fact, it could be argued that Russia was well aware that this chemical attack was coming, as their senior defense officials started planting the seeds of this latest conspiracy theory weeks ago.

Last month, Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov released a statement claiming that the United States was planning to frame Syrian forces with a chemical weapons attack in order to justify a missile strike in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Of course, despite being perhaps more aware than most that Russia could not afford to engage with the United States in a military conflict, Gersimov threatened that the Russian military would engage U.S. forces if threatened. Interestingly, an engagement between Russian forces (claimed to be mercenaries) and U.S. troops did already take place in Syria, ending in a crushing defeat that left hundreds of Russians dead.