Russia wary of NATO missiles in Turkey

Nov. 30, 2012 at 9:51 AM

ANKARA, Turkey, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The deployment of a Patriot air defense system along the Turkey-Syria border means NATO is involved in the Syrian conflict, Russia's NATO envoy said Friday.

Alexander Grushko expressed Russia's concerns about the plan during a meeting with the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels, RIA Novosti reported.

Russia is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

"This involvement can become [or] might accelerate ... an incident or provocation," Grushko said. "Previously, the alliance officials have repeatedly said that Syria is not Libya, and NATO doesn't have a role in the Syrian conflict," he said, referring to last year's multi-state military intervention in Libya.

Turkey, a NATO member, requested the deployment of Patriot missiles inside its borders, saying the defense system was necessary to protect its border with war-torn Syria.

NATO officials said the missiles systems won't be used to set up a no-fly zone or to conduct offensive operations. Russia has been critical of the plan, saying it could further escalate the conflict.

NATO officials began surveying sites along the Turkey-Syria border this week.

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