Russia ready to help guard Syria chemical sites, will not import arms

MOSCOW Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:05pm BST

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) meets Russian deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Damascus, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA on September 18, 2013. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) meets Russian deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Damascus, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA on September 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/SANA/Handout via Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is ready to help guard Syrian chemical weapons sites and destroy President Bashar al-Assad's stockpiles but will not ship any of the chemical arms to Russia for destruction, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday.

Ryabkov was outlining some of the contributions Moscow is willing to make to implement a U.S.-Russian deal that calls for the destruction of Syria's chemical arsenal by the middle of next year.

"We will be ready to help in guarding those facilities where work is being carried out," the Interfax news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying at an arms fair in the Ural Mountains city of Nizhny Tagil.

Russia and the United States are the only countries with industrial scale capacity to handle mustard, VX, sarin or cyanide-armed munitions, but the import of chemical weapons is banned under U.S. law.

Ryabkov said Russia would not import chemical weapons either, state-run RIA reported.

"There can be no doubt - we will not do this," RIA quoted him as saying.

"We believe the destruction (of chemical weapons) on Syrian territory is the best option," he was quoted as saying, adding that the Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the export of chemical weapons.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed this month to the deal, under which inspections of chemical weapons sites in Syria are to be completed by November 30 and its entire arsenal destroyed by June 30.

Permanent U.N. Security Council members Russia, China, the United States, Britain and France are trying to agree a resolution that would support the deal for Syria to abandon its chemical weapons and be acceptable to both Russia and the West.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly, Thomas Grove and Steve Gutterman; Editing by Alison Williams)

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Comments (1)
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
What level of military power does the Russian Federation envisage as being an appropriate force, to protect both itself and dismantle stocks and facilities? (likely to be a longer process than first imagined)

Surely a significant level of Russian airpower shall be needed to provide close support to its ground technicians and round the clock monitoring of sensitive areas.

Specialist infantry, light and heavy armour plus air and command assets will clearly going to be required, to establish the necessary security in an extreme environment.

Sep 26, 2013 7:07pm BST  --  Report as abuse
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