Turkish Missiles near Syria risk 'serious conflict': Russia

AFP , Friday 23 Nov 2012

Russian FM Sergei Lavrov claims Turkish deployment of Patriot missiles might increase risk of NATO intervention in Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov looks on during his meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart Dipu Moni, unseen, in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012 (Photo: AP)

Russia Friday warned any deployment of Patriot missiles by Turkey on its border with Syria may create a temptation to use the weapons and spark a "very serious armed conflict" involving NATO.

"I understand that no one has any intention to see NATO get sucked into the Syrian crisis," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters, reiterating concerns aired by the foreign ministry on Thursday.

But "the more arms are being accumulated, the greater the risk that they will be used," he added.

"Any accumulation of arms creates risks and probably tempts those who would like to more actively resort to the use of force from outside into using them."

"Any accumulation of weapons creates a risk that any provocation may trigger a serious armed conflict. We would like to avoid it at all costs," Lavrov noted.

Lavrov spoke after Turkey turned to NATO to request the deployment of surface-to-air Patriot missiles to protect its troubled border with Syria.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said earlier this week that NATO would consider the request for Patriots "without delay." The approval is expected in coming days, diplomatic sources have said.

Rassmussen said the deployment "would augment Turkey's air defence capabilities to defend the population and territory of Turkey."

Lavrov said he was scheduled to speak with Rasmussen who wanted to explain the alliance's stance on the missiles to Moscow, by phone later Friday.

The Russian foreign ministry on Thursday also voiced its concerns about the possible deployment of missiles on the Turkish-Syrian border, urging Turkey to use its influence to help broker peace in the war-torn country instead of "flexing muscles."

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