Russia hints at partition of Syria, touts giving S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Assad
On Friday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia did not know how the borders of Syria would evolve, Interfax news agency reported.
"We don't know how the situation is going to develop on the question of whether it is possible to keep Syria as a single country," the agency quoted Ryabkov as telling Germany's Deutsche Welle broadcaster.
Syria is currently carved up between the regime in Damascus, which is battling to expand the territory it controls; as well as rebel groups in the north and south; the remnants of the Islamic State and US-backed Kurdish factions in the east; as well as Israeli and Turkish buffer zones in the Golan and northwestern Syria respectively.
Meanwhile, Russia's foreign minister has suggested Moscow is considering giving advanced anti-air missile systems to Assad, in the wake of punitive US-led strikes in the aftermath of an alleged chemical attack in Douma.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the remarks on Friday, according to RIA state news agency, saying US military strikes on Syria "removed any moral obligation Russia had to withhold S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems" from Syria's regime.
Lavrov was also quoted as saying that, prior to the USstrikes on Syrian targets, Russia had told U.S. officials which areas of Syria represented "red lines" for Moscow, and the USmilitary action did not cross those lines.
"Now, we have no moral obligations. We had the moral obligations, we had promised not to do it some 10 years ago, I think, upon the request of our known partners," he said according to RIA.
He also said that he was convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump would not allow an armed confrontation between their two countries, RIA reported.
A Russian army commander has also said that Moscow would consider supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria following US-led strikes.
The United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles last week in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack by government forces on a rebel-held area near the capital.
According to military analysts quoted by Reuters, the S-300 surface-to-air missile system would improve Russia's ability to control air space in Syria, where Moscow’s forces support the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and could be aimed at deterring tougher US action.