Moscow says it has deployed the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system to Syria in a bid to defend Russia’s naval base and vessels.
“Indeed, the Syrian Arab Republic received an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. This system is designed to ensure the safety of the naval base in [the Syrian city of] Tartus and ships located in the coastal area,” Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, said in a statement released on Tuesday.
The statement came hours after Fox News quoted three US officials as saying that Russia had sent the S-300 systems to Syria at the weekend in its first foreign deployment of such system outside its borders. The officials claimed that Moscow “continues to ramp up its military operations in Syria.” Referring to the report, Konashenkov said, “It is unclear why the deployment of the S-300 caused such alarm among our Western partners.”
He further assured that the S-300 missile system is purely for defensive purposes and poses no threat. Last November, Russia deployed its newest S-400 missile system to Hmeimim Air Base in Syria as part of a security boost following the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey in Syria.
On Monday, US State Department spokesman, John Kirby, announced that Washington was suspending its participation in bilateral channels with Moscow that were established to maintain a truce in Syria. The announcement came two weeks after the latest US-Russia brokered ceasefire in Syria came to an end following a week after Damascus’ refusal to extend the deal as a result of deadly US-led air raids on its military base near the eastern city of Dayr al-Zawr in violation of the agreement.
Russia hopes political wisdom prevails in Washington over Syria
In another development on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, expressed hope that “political wisdom” would prevail in Washington regarding cooperation on Syria.
Peskov further noted that Washington’s suspension of the talks did not mean “Russia will renounce its plans to assist Syria’s armed forces in the fight against terrorism.”
Also on Tuesday, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara will make a proposal to revive the Syrian ceasefire deal.
He added that Erdogan may discuss the issue over the phone with US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
Since March 2011, Syria has been hit by militancy it blames on some Western states and their regional allies. Moscow and Washington support opposing sides in the crisis.