Lavrov defends supply of Russian missiles to Syria



SOUNDBITE 1 Sergei Lavrov (man), Russian Foreign minister (Russian, 40 sec):

"Russia is not planning to sell. Russia has been selling for a long time. Russia has sold and signed contracts a long time ago, and is completing supplies of the anti-aircraft systems. This is not forbidden by any international law. It is a defensive weapon and it is meant to be used defensively by a state, in this case Syria, so that the importing country can defend itself against air attacks, which as we all know is not a fanciful scenario."

-VAR of the press conference




Russia 'completing supplies' of missiles to Syria: Lavrov


WARSAW, Poland, May 10, 2013 (AFP) - Russia is completing its delivery of surface-to-air missiles to Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday, a move the United States has called destabilising.

"Russia is not planning to sell -- Russia has sold and signed contracts a long time ago, and is completing supplies of the equipment -- which is anti-aircraft systems, according to the already signed contracts," Lavrov told reporters in Warsaw.

He added that "this is not forbidden by any international laws, this is defensive weaponry."

"It is designed for Syria as an importer to have in this situation an opportunity to defend itself from air strikes which, as we know, is not a completely fantastical scenario," he said.

Syria has vowed to "respond immediately" to any new Israeli attack against its territory after two reported Israeli strikes on military targets last week.

Lavrov's comments came as Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday discussed possible options and joint measures for ending the conflict in Syria during talks in southern Russian resort of Sochi.

A day earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned against any Russian missiles sales to Syria saying it would be "destabilising" to the region as he seeks to build diplomatic efforts to end the bloody conflict.

"International arms deliveries to Syria must end and we must do everything to create a chance for a political solution," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle insisted Friday in Warsaw at a joint press conference with Lavrov and Polish counterpart Radoslaw Sikorski.