Defense Missile deal protects Syria from invasion: Russia

May 28, 2013 | By More

May 28, MOSCOW (AP) — Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov wouldn’t say whether Russia has shipped any of the long-range S-300 air defense missile systems, but added that Moscow isn’t going to abandon the deal despite strong Western and Israeli criticism.

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Russia reserves the right to provide Syria with state-of-the art air defense missiles, seeing it as a key deterrent against foreign intervention in the country, a top Russian official said Tuesday.

“We understand the concerns and signals sent to us from different capitals, we realize that many of our partners are concerned about the issue, ” Ryabkov said, adding that “we have no reason to revise our stance.”

“We believe that such steps to a large extent help restrain some ‘hot heads’ considering a scenario to give an international dimension to this conflict,” he said. Russia has been the key ally of the Syrian regime, protecting it from the United Nations sanctions and providing it with weapons despite the civil war there that has claimed over 70,000 lives.

Ryabkov didn’t say when the contract was signed or give any other details. It is unclear if Moscow has provided Damascus with any of the S-300s missiles, a powerful weapon that has a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) and the capability to track down and strike multiple targets simultaneously. The weapon would be a major boost for Syria’s air defense capabilities, including against neighboring countries that oppose Assad’s regime.

Ryabkov’s statement comes a day after European Union’s decision to lift an arms embargo to Syrian opposition. He criticized the EU decision, saying it would help “fuel” the conflict and defended the S-300 deal, saying the air defense weapons can’t be used in the civil war against the opposition, which doesn’t have aircraft.

Associated press coordinator for human rights observers – Norberto Lluch, reports from Europe.


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Category: Arab uprising

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