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Russia's Putin Says No Missiles Delivered to Syria

  • VOA News

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the European Union-Russian Federation (EU-Russia) Summit in Yekaterinburg, June 4, 2013.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the European Union-Russian Federation (EU-Russia) Summit in Yekaterinburg, June 4, 2013.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Moscow has not delivered advanced air-defense missiles to Syria, saying Russia does not want to upset the balance of forces in the Middle East.

Putin's comments are in line with Russian media reports last week that Moscow had not yet given the S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Damascus and that the system could not be delivered this year.

The Russian comments contradict an interview given last week by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV in which he implied that Moscow had already delivered some of the missiles.

While Putin said the missile deal is not against international law, he added that Russia has not fulfilled the contract yet.

The United States and Israel have warned Russia against delivering the missiles, which would dramatically increase Syria's air defense capability.

Deployment of the S-300 system would likely complicate further possible Israeli airstrikes in Syria.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Monday that no Russian shipments of the missiles to Syria would take place before 2014. He did not elaborate on how he had arrived at his conclusion.

Last week, Ya'alon warned that Israel would "know what do to" if Russia fulfilled the delivery of the S-300 system.

Putin's comments came as Russia and the European Union ended two days of talks overshadowed by disputes over the EU's strong backing of the Syrian opposition and Moscow's continued support for the Syrian president.

The EU decided last week to lift its arms embargo on the Syrian opposition, clearing the way for member nations to supply weapons to anti-Assad fighters at a later date.

Russia and the United States continue to try to arrange an international peace conference that would bring together both the Syrian government and the opposition pushing to oust Assad.

​Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Monday that the United States is not putting enough pressure on the Syrian opposition to participate in the international talks and drop its demand for Assad's exit.

The Syrian government has said it is willing to attend such a conference in principle. But the main opposition coalition has said talks are meaningless while Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah and Iranian personnel commit alleged atrocities against the Syrian people.

Russia has opposed any kind of foreign involvement and has used its veto power in the United Nations Security Council to block three proposed resolutions against the Syrian government.

On Tuesday, Putin again warned that any foreign military intervention in the 26-month-old Syria crisis would fail.

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