Russia has warned that a US decision to ease restrictions on the provision of arms to militants in Syria compromises the safety of Russian aircraft and servicemen operating in the Arab country.
On December 8, the White House said US President Barack Obama had relaxed the so-called Arms Export Control Act for the militants “supporting US Special Forces” in Syria, saying such leniency would contribute to “the national security interests” of the US.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that it viewed the decision as a “hostile act,” and cautioned that the Obama administration was attempting to complicate the situation in the world before President-elect Donald Trump took over the White House in January.
Russia has been lending air support to Syria’s counterterrorism operations since last September. It operates two airbases in the Arab country.
Moscow had earlier warned that the US decision to ease the arms flow to the militants in Syria would pose a threat to the entire Middle East. US weapons could end up in the wrong hands, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at the time.
“Certainly, the worst result of this decision would be those weapons, including MANPADs [man-portable anti-air missiles], ending up in the hands of terrorists, which of course poses a serious threat not only for the region, but for the entire world,” he said.
The decision came after the liberation last week of Syria’s second city of Aleppo from militants by the Syrian and Russian militaries.
As the liberation was underway, a ceasefire deal was worked out during negotiations between Russia and Turkey, which were respectively representing the Syrian government and militants. The accord enabled evacuations out of the city.
Russia later proposed comprehensive talks aimed at the establishment of a countrywide ceasefire across the Arab country. On Tuesday, representatives from Moscow and Ankara were reported to hold follow-up talks in the Turkish capital with that end in sight.
Separately, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey had agreed in a telephone conversation on the same day to push for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria.
During the phone conversation, “the importance was stressed of a rapid completion of agreements on practical parameters to end military actions (in Syria), the separation of the moderate opposition from terrorist groups, and preparations for the meeting in Astana,” the statement read, referring the planned talks in the Kazakh capital to discuss a nationwide ceasefire.
Iran, Russia, and Turkey have previously discussed prospects for resolving the Syrian conflict in the Russian capital.