Assad with Medvedev
Photo: AFP

Assad to Russia: Plant missiles in Syria

Russia Today TV reports Syrian president will allow Russia to place anti-aircraft weaponry in Syria, in response to US planting of missiles in Poland. Acting Russian ambassador in Israel: Why would we need to deploy missiles here?

Syrian President Bashar Assad has made an offer to his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, allowing the latter to counter the US's involvement in Poland by planting Russian missiles on Syrian soil, Russia Today TV reported Thursday.


According to the report, Assad claims that the placing of Russian artillery in Syria provides an adequate response to the US's placement of its own artillery in Poland and the Czech Republic. The news channel did not report Medvedev's answer to the offer.


Acting Russian Ambassador in Israel Anatoly Yurkov responded to the report by telling Ynet, "Why in the world would we need to deploy our missiles here? Against whom? We have no enemies in the region."


In response to reports about the US's involvement in Poland he said, "I think this is something the Syrian president said, which has no basis." Regarding weapons sales between the two countries he added, "We have always relied on calculations by which we will not provide (Syria) with weapons that could destabilize forces in problematic regions. This is also related to the Middle East – we will not sell new weaponry."


Assad has taken a pro-Russian stance in all of the interviews conducted by the nation's news agencies. In his offer he was probably referring to the Russian S-300 anti-plane missiles, which could threaten US aircrafts in the Middle East. The missiles, placed on Syrian territory, would also make an Israeli air strike more difficult.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that his country is considering fulfilling Assad's bid for new Russian artillery, but did not specify the type of weaponry Damascus has asked to buy. Russia's Itar-Tas news agency reported Lavrov said the weapons were defense related, and "would not harm the region's strategic balance." The foreign minister spoke about the matter after a meeting with Medvedev and Assad.


'What conflict?'

During the meeting, held in Sochi, Assad said Syria understands Moscow's position. "I would like to express my support for Russia," he said. "We understand Russia's stance regarding the breakaway regions and understand that it came in retaliation to Georgian provocation. We appreciate Russia's courage in taking international initiative and in withdrawing forces from the conflict region. We oppose any attempt to harm Russia's position."


Perhaps to assuage Israel, Medvedev later called Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and the two spoke at length about regional issues. The Prime Minister's Office stated that the two leaders discussed their desire to promote relations between the two countries. They also discussed the battle in Caucasus and the political process in the Middle East, especially Assad's visit to Russia.


Regarding this issue, the acting Russian ambassador said he did not understand the confusion surrounding the visit. "This visit was planned a long time ago," he said. He added that talks between Medvedev and Olmert were also being scheduled. "They will be in constant contact," he said.


When asked about the conflict between the two countries regarding Israeli weapons deals with Georgia he concluded, "What conflict? I don't see any conflict in the relations between us."


פרסום ראשון: 08.21.08, 17:22
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