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    RUSSIA TO CHECK HOW SYRIA USES ANTIMISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEMS STRELETS

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    MOSCOW, March 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will carry out post-sale inspections of the purposeful use of the Strelets antimissile systems, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has said to journalists.

    Russia has not sold them to Syria yet, he stressed.

    "Commercial negotiations are still under way", Mr. Ivanov noted.

    Asked if Strelets can be used by terrorists, he said it is hardly probable.

    "Terrorists cannot make use of it because it is not a manpack air defense system, which is portable. Strelets is a rather massive and complicated system not to be carried in the mountains", he said.

    Mr. Ivanov stressed that the Strelets system is designed for close-quarters antimissile defense with a range not more than 5 to 6 kilometers.

    "We know why Syria buys these weapons. Syrians want it for the protection of small facilities, like the presidential palace", Mr. Ivanov said.

    "Supply of these kinds of armaments is wholly legitimate," he stressed.

    He has one more time rejected the information on selling manpack air defense systems to Syria. "We have never planned to sell manpack air defense systems to Syria and are not going to do so", Mr. Ivanov said.

    The head of the Russian Defense Ministry quietly reacted to the criticism of European states in the address of Russia for cooperation with Syria.

    "Many would not like Russia to sell even a single piece of ammunition to Syria because it can theoretically be used by terrorists. But it is utter nonsense", he said.

    "We also don't like when many states sell weapons to places we don't like them to, such as Pakistan. We have no and will never have military cooperation with Pakistan", Mr. Ivanov stressed.

    He mentioned the scandalous loss of weapons in Ukraine and did not rule out new such cases from its territory.

    "Many weapons-loss scandals have taken place in Ukraine and still more may happen", Mr. Ivanov said in answer to journalists' request to comment on the loss of missiles in Ukraine.

    Meanwhile, he would not comment in detail. "I'm not responsible for Ukraine", he said.

    The press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry told RIA Novosti that on February 22 a Strela 3M antiaircraft missile system disappeared from a Ukrainian navy depot.

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