Russia Slams US Patriot Plans for Jordan

MOSCOW, June 4 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow considers the US move to send Patriot missiles and fighter jets to Jordan as an attempt to pump foreign weaponry into a highly volatile region, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

“We have repeatedly voiced our position on this issue – foreign weapons are being pumped into a highly volatile region,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

“It should be noted that these weapons are being deployed in the immediate vicinity of Syria where the fire of a destructive conflict has been burning for more than two years, a conflict that Russia together with our US partners is trying to stop by proposing to hold an international peace conference as quickly as possible,” the Russian diplomat said.

The US administration has approved the deployment of a Patriot missile battery and F-16 fighters to Jordan as part of the upcoming Exercise Eager Lion, which will involve over 15,000 troops representing 18 countries.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that some of these weapons may remain beyond the exercise at the request of the government of Jordan “in light of circumstances in the region and escalating violence along Jordan’s borders.”

The Pentagon has already deployed about 200 servicemen to Jordan to help Syria’s neighbor prepare for a possible escalation of the Syrian conflict.

NATO earlier deployed six Patriot batteries in Turkey to shore up security on its 900-kilometer (560 mile) border with Syria.

Patriot is an air-defense missile system capable of intercepting ballistic missiles as well as cruise missiles and aircraft. It was first used operationally in the first Gulf War in 1991.

The Syrian conflict, which started in March 2011 with peaceful protests demanding reforms, has gradually developed into a civil war in response to the government’s military crackdown on the protesters.

More than 80,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and nearly 1.4 million are registered as refugees in neighboring countries, according to the United Nations.


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