BRUSSELS, November 30 (RIA Novosti) - Planned deployment of Patriot air defense systems on the Turkish-Syrian border will mean NATO is involved in the Syrian conflict, Russia’s NATO envoy said on Friday.
Alexander Grushko, newly-appointed envoy to NATO, said he reiterated Russia’s concerns over the deployment plan at a meeting with the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels.
“This involvement might accelerate and could become irrevocable in case of an incident or provocation,” Grushko told reporters on Friday. “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.
Russia insists that the Syrian conflict can’t be resolved with the use of military force, Grushko said.
Turkey, a NATO member, has requested the deployment of Patriot missiles on its territory, saying the anti-missile system is necessary to protect its 900-km border with conflict-torn Syria.
NATO officials have maintained that the missiles systems will not be used to establish a no-fly zone or to conduct offensive operations. But Russia criticized the intention saying that it may lead to further escalation of the conflict. This week NATO officials have started surveying sites along the Turkey-Syria border.
The ongoing civil war in Syria is expected to be discussed during the NATO-Russia Council meeting of foreign ministers scheduled for Tuesday, December 4.
The UN has estimated that nearly 40,000 people have died since the fighting began in March 2011.