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Russia: Syrian threat to Turkey overblown

Dec. 5, 2012 at 11:25 AM   |   Comments

MOSCOW, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The national security threat posed to Turkey from the Syrian civil war may be blown out of proportion, said the Russian foreign minister.

NATO this week announced it would deploy Patriot missiles along the Turkish border with Syria to protect its ally. While some Western leaders have called for a tougher stance, NATO said there are no plans for a no-fly zone over Syrian airspace.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Turkey has a right to self-defense but the Kremlin is opposed to the deployment of Patriots along the Syrian border, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reports.

"We are not protesting, we are not trying to prevent Turkey from realizing its right under Article 5 of the Washington treaty," he said, referring to NATO's self-defense regime. "We are simply trying to say that the alleged threat should not be blown out of proportion."

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Turkey this week, said the Syrian government was too pre-occupied with civil fighting to pose any danger to the region.

His comments come amid concerns that Syria may deploy chemical weapons as the civil war encroaches on Damascus. The Syrian government had said it would only use chemical weapons if threatened by an external aggressor, the Russian news agency reports.

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