It's been reported (by a number of sources) that the Russian Federation "warned" yesterday, 12 April 2018, that if any US missiles target sites in Syria, then the Russian assets would attempt to shut down the missiles and the launching sites would be targeted.

While this is generally reported as a warning, it is, in fact, worded as an ultimatum because it demands a reversal of policy. The President of the United States has stated that if it is found that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical strike in Syria, then the US military action in Syria would be imminent.

I know that a number of inconsequential states have threatened the US after the Cold War ended. Some suffered dire consequences as results of such threats (Panama, for example). But what was the very last time a state actor gave the US an ultimatum backed by a military threat? Since I am counting the threat of war by Noriega as such an act, the "latest" ultimatum would have to be something after that. And, of course, it would have to be something before this ultimatum given by Russia.

I am asking to gauge what we should expect to be the US response (based on the previous credible ultimatums).

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    The difference is subtle, but an ultimatum requires action on the part of the second party. A warning is more akin to an action that will take place if X happens. In this case, the United States could do nothing at all, and not trigger Russia's warning, so 'warning' is probably more appropriate than ultimatum. Are you strictly looking for ultimatums, military related ultimatums, something else? Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 19:35
  • @JackOfAllTrades, I changed the question to clarify why I think it's an ultimatum. If it is found that chemical weapons were used by Syria and there is no US response, that would be a reversal of the currently-stated policy (rather than just an inaction).
    – grovkin
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 19:58
  • Would Saddam Hussein's "Mother of All Battles" rhetoric qualify?
    – jamesqf
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 5:16
  • The closest I can think of (but it was by a non-state actor) was Osama Bin Ladden demanding (I think a while after 9/11) that US withdraw all of its troops from the Saudi territory or the terrorism would continue. General chest-thumping in response to threats of war (which is what Saddam was doing) are not the same as clearly stated demands backed by a credible threat of force.
    – grovkin
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 5:31
  • Cannot find source for "ultimatum". Talks were about Russian forces, but this is obvious. Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 8:48

1 Answer 1


North Korea has made many significant threats in the past year. It may be safe to assume that these were conditional and therefore constitute an ultimatum.


North Korea is principly invested in the idea that the Korean peninsular should be unified under its flag: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/04/does-north-koreas-kim-jong-un-hope-achieve-missile-tests-threats/

  • Can you, please, add to your answer what the NK's demands are? Russia is clearly demanding that the US stand by and do nothing while Syrian regime targets its people with chemical weapons if that is what the Syrian regime elects to do.
    – grovkin
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 21:13
  • @grovkin Added Korean peninsular unity demand.
    – Aethelbald
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 21:34

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