In an angry reaction to the lifting of a European Union (EU) embargo on arms for Syrian rebels, Russia has reaffirmed plans to supply advanced air defence missiles to the Syrian government forces.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused the EU of “throwing fuel on the fire” by letting its Syria arms embargo expire.
Mr. Ryabkov told an urgently called press conference on Tuesday that Russia would not scrap its contract to supply Syria with S-300 long-range air defence systems despite “signals” from Western capitals.
“We see no reason to review our stance,” he said, adding S-300 would be useful in deterring “hotheads” from internationalising the conflict in Syria.
Earlier, an official had said Moscow would refrain from supplying S-300 to Syria. Mr. Ryabkov stressed that Moscow was “disappointed” by the EU decision, which “harmed” the prospects of an international peace conference jointly proposed by Russia and the U.S.
Russia appeared to be particularly riled that France and Britain, most vocal in urging it to scrap the S-300 deal, pushed a divided EU to lift the arms embargo on Syria.
The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said the S-300 delivery would be a “stabilising factor” in the Syrian conflict.
The diplomat would not disclose whether the S-300s has already been sent to Syria, as some sources claimed.
“I can’t confirm or deny that these deliveries have taken place, I can only say that we will not give them up.”