No Russian involvement in Syrian conflict - Lavrov
Calling the possibility of Russia's involvement in Syria’s conflict “out of the question,” the minister defended Russia’s military and technological cooperation in the region which has served to “promote stability in the Middle East,” Lavrov said in response to a question from the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty, and published on the Russian Foreign Ministry website.
On the subject of military and technological cooperation, the minister took an opportunity to mention that the Russian naval logistics center in Tartus is still “functioning as usual."
Speaking on the overall political climate, Lavrov said Russia’s cooperation with Syria was never intended to support any particular political force inside of the country.
The minister reiterated Russia’s opinion that the Syrian people have the right to resolve the internal conflict by themselves.
"We are categorically against external interference in what is happening in Syria, especially with the use of force,” he said. “We are doing all we can to stop the bloodshed and get the parties to the negotiating table so that the Syrian people…can agree on how their country's political system will be organized in the future."
Earlier, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stressed that Russia has no plans to support Syrian President Bashar Assad “at any cost.”
"Russia has no special relations with President Assad. Such relations existed between the Soviet Union and his father, but they don't exist between our country and the incumbent Syrian President," the Russian Premier said at a press conference following a meeting with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault in Paris on Tuesday.
The Foreign Minister stressed that Russia was simply following the conditions for a Syrian ceasefire detailed in the UN communiqué, which was agreed upon by global leaders in Geneva in July.
In order to implement the agreement, Russia continues to work closely with members of both the government and opposition groups, Lavrov noted, while adding that all “external players that have influence on Syrian affairs” should encourage both sides into complying with the UN communiqué.
The risk of diverging from the agreed course, and “waging war till a victory against the Assad regime,” could only worsen the suffering of the Syrian people and complicate the situation in the Middle East, which is already explosive, he said.
Lavrov then provided a breakdown of the Syrian crisis, which has been raging with increasing severity for 20 months.
"The combat is becoming increasingly fiercer and is leading to new casualties, while many extremists, foreign mercenaries, and terrorists linked to al-Qaeda have appeared among the rebel opposition,” he noted.
Meanwhile, disagreements separating the Sunnis and the Shiites are becoming deeper and deeper, and the danger of the crisis spreading into neighboring states is a cause for serious concerns, he said.
Lavrov pointed out that a relatively large Russian diaspora lived in Syria before the hostilities began.
"A lot of our citizens have had to return to Russia, but thousands of Russians are still there,” he noted. “We are carefully following the situation and will announce any developments that may affect Russian citizens.
Their security is our main concern, he concluded.
Robert Bridge, RT