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Russia 'does not understand' uproar over Syria arms sales

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Russia's foreign minister said Friday he did not understand the international uproar created by Moscow's continuing weapons cooperation with regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"I do not understand why the media is trying to create a sensation out of this," said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. "We have not hidden that we supply weapons to Syria under signed contracts, without violating any international agreements, or our own legislation."

Lavrov said during a joint press appearance in Sochi with visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that Russia only supplied defence weapons that could not alter the outcome of the 26-month conflict between Assad's forces and the opposition.

"We are first and foremost supplying defence weapons related to air defence," Lavrov said in televised comments.

"This does not in any way alter the balance of forces in this region or give any advantage in the fight against the opposition," he stressed.

Israel in particular is concerned that Russia is reportedly ready to supply Syria with high-tech S-300 surface-to-air missiles that could take out other nation's fighter jets.

The New York Times separately reported on Friday that Russia had sent Syria a shipment of upgraded Yakhonts anti-ship missiles that would make any naval blockade of Syria more difficult.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130517/russia-does-not-understand-uproar-over-syria-arms-sales-0