MOSCOW — Russia has warned any deployment of Patriot missiles by Turkey on its border with Syria may create a temptation to use the weapons and spark a “very serious armed conflict” involving NATO.
“I understand that no one has any intention to see NATO get sucked into the Syrian crisis,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters Nov. 23, reiterating concerns aired by the foreign ministry one day prior.
But “the more arms are being accumulated, the greater the risk that they will be used,” he added.
“Any accumulation of arms creates risks and probably tempts those who would like to more actively resort to the use of force from outside into using them.”
Lavrov spoke after Turkey turned to NATO to request the deployment of surface-to-air Patriot missiles to protect its troubled border with Syria.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said this week that NATO would consider the request for Patriots “without delay.” The approval is expected in coming days, diplomatic sources have said.
Rasmussen said the deployment “would augment Turkey’s air defense capabilities to defend the population and territory of Turkey.”
Later Nov. 23, Rasmussen telephoned Lavrov to inform the top Russian diplomat of Turkey’s request to help it protect its borders.
“Lavrov confirmed Russian concerns over the plans to ramp up the military presence in the region,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Lavrov, it added, has reiterated Russia’s offer to facilitate direct negotiations between Turkey and Syria.
The Russian foreign ministry on Nov. 22 also voiced its concerns about the possible deployment of missiles on the Turkish-Syrian border, urging Turkey to use its influence to help broker peace in the war-torn country instead of “flexing muscles.”