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Lavrov: Russian S-300, S-400 air defense systems threaten no one in Syria

According to the foreign minister, Russia has deployed its S-300 system in Syria for providing reliable protection for its military personnel

MOSCOW, October 6. /TASS/. Russian S-300 and S-400 antiaircraft missile systems in Syria threaten no one as these are defensive armaments, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.

Lavrov made this statement after talks with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.

"Let me repeat: both the S-300 and the S-400 are purely defensive armaments, which do not threaten anyone," the Russian foreign minister said.

According to Lavrov, Russia has deployed its S-300 system in Syria for providing reliable protection for its military personnel.

"We must guarantee reliable protection of our military personnel, the aerospace group and the logistics facility in the port of Tartus in a situation that is not returning to calm," he said.

The newest air defense system S-400 was brought to Syria at the end of November 2015 after a Russian bomber was downed by a Turkish F-16 jet. As Vladimir Putin said in mid-March 2016, S-400 and missile and artillery systems Pantsir would remain on duty in Syria after the pullout of the bulk of the Russian air group.

On Tuesday, October 4 the Russian Defense Ministry said a battery of S-300 had been moved to the naval logistic facility at Tartus. It is expected to provide protection for the Russian task force off Syria’s shores.

The  Russian diplomat expressed hope that those in the United States eager to attack Syria would not gain the upper hand.

"We keep reading reports that some in Washington are eager to use force. This is an open secret," he said. "I do hope that they will not gain the upper hand, though. We’ve heard a rather balanced White House commentary in reply to a request for a comment on these rumors."

"We do hope that this reflects the main policy the Barack Obama Administration is conducting," Lavrov said.

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The diplomat also said that the Syrian authorities have given consent to the opening of a European Union’s humanitarian office in Damascus.

"The Syrian authorities gave consent to the opening of a European Union’s humanitarian office in Damascus," in response to an EU request to open an office, he said.

 Task profile groups on humanitarian issues and ceasefire in Syria will gather in Geneva on Thursday.

"According to our data, two task groups are to hold a meeting in Geneva today: on humanitarian issues and on ceasefire regime compliance. We fully agree that it is necessary to ensure control and monitoring of the regime of cessation of hostilities," the minister said.

 Russia and France are concerned about problems with humanitarian aid in Syria.

"We discussed the course of preparations for a visit of President (Vladimir) Putin to France, scheduled for October 19. We expect that the visit will give an additional impetus to relations between our countries," he said.

"The current situation in Syria raises concerns. Moscow and Paris are concerned over ongoing violence, remaining problems with humanitarian aid," Lavrov said.

"We closely cooperate with French partners on the Syrian issue in bilateral format, as well as in the UN Security Council and within the framework of the International Syria Support Group and within the framework of targeted groups," he said.

"France’s position on the Syrian issue, as well as on the whole on the situation in the Middle East and in North Africa is always of interest for us," the top diplomat said.

Russia is ready to work on the French draft resolution on Syria

"We spoke about the initiative France had submitted to the UN Security Council, a draft resolution," Lavrov said. "We will be ready to work on this text," he added.

"We are considering the resolution, and we expect that our ideas and amendments that we will hand over after today’s meeting, will be assessed and taken into account. These amendments contain a suggestion that the UN Security Council should demand the separation of the moderate opposition from Jabhat al-Nusra," Lavrov said.

"We are very much concerned with what is going on in Syria," the minister said. "We want to do everything possible to normalize the situation as soon as possible."

"To prevent the repetition of the tragedy that occurred in other countries, in particular, Libya, when later the terrorist infection spread across Africa, including Mali, Chad, the Central African Republic, where French servicemen also had to fight it," he said.

"It is of principled importance to prevent UN Security Council resolutions from being forgotten," Lavrov said.

"We know of France’s desire to make its contribution to the process of Syrian settlement in addition to Russian-American initiatives," he said. "We will be ready to discuss your ideas specifically in the framework of the tasks I named."

On sanctions

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov believes that the issue of sanctions against Russia over Syria is a parallel to the Ukrainian events, but he still hopes that common sense will prevail.

"It is entirely a competence of the German government," Lavrov said in the wake of reports Germany is considering the possibility of taking more sanctions against Russia over Syria. "This is a matter of conscience of those who dare judge what is taking place in Syria."

"This situation looks rather odd," Lavrov said. "The situation in Ukraine… The Minsk Accords, adopted a while ago have not been implemented. The European Union, including Germany, has taken a stance implying that sanctions against Russia will be lifted only when the Minsk Accords have been translated into realty. We all know who the implementation of the agreements depends on and who the agreements are addressed to. There are specific deadlines, specific things that are to be done, including amendments to the Constitution and the status of Donbass."

"The status of Donbass in these agreements was described by Merkel and Hollande personally," Lavrov said. "Our partners are unable to influence Kiev to make it comply with its obligations, but the sanctions have been taken against Russia."

"Next to Syria. There are Russian-US agreements that our US partners have failed to begin to implement, but the discussion is revolving around the possibility of sanctions against Russia over Syria," the diplomat assumes.

"I do hope that the common sense will prevail over the wish to always put the blame at Russia’s door, that there will prevail the wish to achieve normalization in different parts of the world, including Ukraine and the Middle East, proceeding from the interests of peoples who live there," Lavrov said.

De Mistura's proposal on withdrawing militants of Jabhat al-Nusra

The minister has praised the proposal by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on withdrawing militants of Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia as a terrorist organization) from eastern Aleppo in Syria.

Lavrov made this statement after a press conference on the results of negotiations with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.

"I believe that this proposal, at least the way it sounds, merits very careful consideration," the Russian foreign minister said.