Moscow is not attempting to prevent Turkey from realizing its right to self-defense by opposing the deployment of Patriot missiles along the border with Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.
Russia has repeatedly voiced concern about plans to deploy Patriot air defense systems on Turkey’s border with Syria, although Moscow avoided directly criticizing Turkey.
“We are not protesting, we are not trying to prevent Turkey from realizing its right under Article 5 of the Washington treaty,” Lavrov said after a Russia-NATO Council meeting in Brussels. “We are simply trying to say that the alleged threat should not be blown out of proportion.”
The minister reiterated that the placement of additional military assets in the region increases the risks that they could be used eventually or accidentally.
Lavrov added, though, that NATO officials reassured Russia that they were solely seeking a peaceful solution for the Syrian crisis.
NATO member Turkey formally requested Patriot missiles from the military alliance after weeks of talks with NATO allies about how to shore up security on its 900-kilometer (560 mile) border. Syria is believed to have several hundred surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads.
Damascus has repeatedly stated that it would not use chemical weapons against its own people, but could deploy them to thwart “external aggression.”
The deployment of Patriot missile in Turkey is expected to be formally approved during a ministerial meeting of the 28 NATO allies in Brussels on December 4-5.
Putin downplayed the possible deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey and stressed that this would only complicate the situation in the region.