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Lavrov Says No 'Moral Obligation' To Deny Assad S-300 Missiles

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has suggested that Moscow might supply high-precision S-300 air-defense missiles to its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the wake of Western air strikes.

In an interview with state news agency RIA published on April 20, Lavrov said that Russia had refrained from supplying Assad's government with S-300s in the past because Western countries had urged it not to do so.

"We had a moral obligation, we promised [not to supply S-300 missiles to Assad] about 10 years ago," Lavrov said. "Although they are used purely for defense, we met the requests. Now we no longer have this moral obligation."

The United States, Britain, and France fired more than 100 missiles at Syrian facilities on April 14 in response to what Western officials say was a chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians in the town of Douma, outside Damascus.

In the interview, Lavrov also said that Russia had told U.S. officials ahead of the strikes which parts of Syria were "red lines" for Moscow, and that the strikes did not cross those lines.

U.S. officials have said they used military communication lines with Russia to clear airspace before the strikes, but did not inform Moscow of the targets in advance.

Lavrov also said that he was confident that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump would not allow an armed confrontation between their two countries.

With reporting by RIA and Reuters