Syrian strikes: 'Incredibly lucky' Putin didn't hit back

A Kiwi international law expert says it's "incredibly lucky" Russia did not immediately retaliate after the US-led strikes on Syria.

The US, UK and France bombed government targets in Syria on Saturday (NZ time) in response to an alleged chemical attack in Douma.

Waikato University professor Al Gillespie says Russian President Vladimir Putin - a former KGB agent - will be plotting behind closed doors.

"Putin's very good at getting revenge, best served cold," Prof Gillespie told Newshub. "You won't see it coming, but it will happen - but it might be a month away, it could be two months away."

He says a war between the West and Russia has essentially been started - and the risk of it turning hot led him to belive the strikes wouldn't get signed off.

"Putin had said if you do this, I'm going to strike - not just at the missiles, but also at the launch platforms. We are incredibly lucky that Putin did not stick to his word."

Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Putin. Photo credit: Getty

Prof Gillespie says the US and its allies could have taken a different approach like imposing sanctions.

He wants the Government here needs to ask more questions of its allies' moves.

"It's not satisfactory that these kinds of actions are now happening on a regular basis, where we can't get absolutely watertight proof publicly available in advance, rather than being told to trust the Government - and then an action like this happens."

Russia has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, and is considering supplying new S-300 missile systems to its ally Syria - which it recently declined to do so, under pressure from the West.

"The current escalation of the situation around Syria has a devastating impact on the whole system of international relations," said Mr Putin.

"Russia in the most serious way condemns the attack on Syria where Russian military servicemen help the legitimate government to fight terrorism."

He said Syrian air defence systems, which mostly date back to the Soviet Union, intercepted 71 missiles. The US, on the other hand, said they completely failed.

Newshub.