U.S. military strikes on Syria last week removed any moral obligation Russia had to withhold S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems from its ally Bashar Assad, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday, according to the RIA state news agency.
Lavrov was also quoted as saying that, prior to the U.S. strikes on Syrian regime targets, Russia had told U.S. officials which areas of Syria represented "red lines" for Moscow, and the U.S. military action did not cross those lines.
"Now, we have no moral obligations. We had the moral obligations, we had promised not to do it some 10 years ago, I think, upon the request of our known partners," he said according to RIA.
He also said that he was convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump would not allow an armed confrontation between their two countries, RIA reported.
A Russian army commander has also said that Moscow would consider supplying S-300 missile systems to Assad following U.S.-led strikes.
According to military analysts, the S-300 surface-to-air missile system would improve Russia's ability to control air space in Syria where Moscow's forces support Assad and could be aimed at deterring tougher U.S. action.The state-of-the-art S-300 is capable of engaging up to six targets simultaneously, with two missiles assigned per target to ensure a high kill probability. The missile systems have a range of 200 kilometers (120 miles), which cover the airspace of Lebanon, sometimes used by Israeli planes to strike Syria and Israel itself.
The Assad regime was set to get the missile defense systems in 2013, but Russian President Vladimir Putin froze the deal after talks with EU leaders and Israel. He stressed, however, that Russia would review the decision if the U.S. attacked. In the wake of the missile strikes against the regime, the delivery of the S-300 looks more than likely.
The United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles overnight in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in Syria a week ago, targeting what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities, including a research and development center in Damascus' Barzeh district and two installations near Homs.
The bombing was the biggest intervention by Western countries against Assad and his superpower ally Russia, but the three countries said the strikes were limited to Syria's chemical weapons capabilities and not aimed at toppling Assad or intervening in the civil war.
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