Topic: Protests in Syria
MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is not supplying the Syrian authorities with offensive weapons or any kinds of weapons that could be used against civilians, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday.
“We are not delivering offensive weapons to Syria. We are not delivering weapons which could be used in a civil war,” Lavrov said at a news conference following his talks in Moscow with UN and Arab League’s envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.
Lavrov also said that unlike other countries, Russia has no special task forces either in Syria or neighboring territories.
Russia has often been criticized for its multi-billion-dollar weapons trade with Bashar al-Assad's government, but earlier this year Moscow suspended all arms contracts with Syria until the conflict is resolved.
Lavrov added that despite the continuing violence in Syria, he still hoped that the crisis would be resolved politically, based on the Geneva agreements.
“The number of victims keeps growing but there is still a chance for a political settlement,” Lavrov said.
At a meeting on Syria in Geneva on June 30, foreign ministers from UN Security Council permanent member states and from countries neighboring Syria proposed establishing a transitional Syrian government that would comprise both the Syrian authorities and opposition forces, but incessant fighting in Syria has made it impossible to launch a dialogue.
Between 20,000 and 37,000 Syrians, by various estimates, have been killed in the 20-month-long conflict between government forces and the opposition, which comprises groups of all stripes, from Communists and secular liberals to Islamist groups, including Al-Qaeda.
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Sevastopol became Russia’s main naval base on the Black Sea, a role it was to play for many years. A total of 25,000 servicemen, not including civilian staff, are employed at the Black fleet’s facilities. When the families of these servicemen are taken into account, this figure grows to more than 100,000 people.