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Lavrov: Chance for Syria Peace Can’t Be Missed
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday there is a chance of peace in Syria which cannot be missed, calling for for maximum efforts in order to get out of the “storm” in reference to the recent escalation on the Syrian crisis.
“I’m positive there is a chance for peace in Syria, and it cannot be missed. Tomorrow we’ll discuss this issue with Secretary of State John Kerry,” Lavrov said after meeting his Kazakh counterpart in Astana.
Echoing sentiments previously expressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said Russia’s active diplomatic efforts were intended “to prevent external military intervention in Syria, which would only lead to further destabilization in the country and throughout the entire region.”
Regarding the Russian initiative, which has “gathered widespread support,” Lavrov noted it was forwarded with “the understanding that it will waive the use of armed force against Syria.”
Lavrov further said a delegation of Russian and American chemical weapons experts who “have the necessary knowledge to identify relevant solutions to such issues” would be present in Geneva.
“It is necessary ensure Syria’s adherence to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which would entail a declaration of Syria’s chemical weapons storage sites and the disclosure of its chemical [weapons] program,” he said.
Lavrov also said that the Russian-US meeting in Geneva was not intended to “usurp” the preparatory process for resolving the Syrian question.
The top Russian minister is to meet with his US counterpart John Kerry in Geneva to hammer out the details of Russia’s initiative to put Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles under international control.
During the meeting, Kerry and Lavrov will attempt to reach a deal on a UN Security Council resolution that would require Syria to put its chemical weapons stockpiles under international control, allowing for their further destruction. Syria would also be expected to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Russia remains opposed to elements of the French-drafted UN resolution, which included a timetable and the threat of force to facilitate Syria’s acquiescence to the plan.
Assad: We Agreed to Put ’Chemicals’ under Int’l Control at Russia’s Request
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Thursday that Damascus agreed to hand over control of chemical weapons to the international supervision at the request of Russia, and not because of the U.S. threats.
During an interview with the channel “Russia 24”, the Syrian President made it clear that Damascus will send to the United Nations documents in order to prepare a convention on the matter.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, has said in an article published by the New York Times daily that forces of the Syrian opposition – and not the Syrian army – had used chemical weapons to incite the U.S. intervention.
“No one doubts that poison gas was used, but there are all reasons to believe that poison gas was not used by the national military, but by the opposition forces in order to incite the intervention of foreign powers that support them,” Putin said.
Russia’s ‘Carrier-Killer’ Moskva Enters Mediterranean
Russia’s Moskva missile cruiser, dubbed a “carrier-killer” by NATO, has passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and is now heading toward the eastern Mediterranean to assume command of the Russian naval force there.
The Russian Navy said in a statement that the Moskva cruiser passed through the Straits of Gibraltar on September 10.
Interfax news agency added that the Moskva cruiser, “commanded by Sergey Tronev, Captain 1st Rank of the Guards… has enough room for maneuver now.”
“The Black Sea flagship entered the Russian Navy’s area of responsibility in the Mediterranean at 11:00 pm Moscow time yesterday,” the agency reported a military source as saying.
The missile-carrying cruiser is expected to join its final destination in eastern Mediterranean on September 15 or 16.
Upon arrival, the command of the Russian Navy unit in the Mediterranean, currently stationed onboard the Admiral Panteleyev anti-submarine ship, will be relocated to the Moskva.
“The armaments and technical equipment of the missile cruiser are in working condition. The crew is ready to perform combat missions,” the source said.
Missile cruiser “Moskva” belonging to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet firing anti-aircraft missiles during joint drills with other fleets.
The missile cruiser, initially known to Western naval intelligence as “Slava” (Glory), was launched in 1979 and entered service in 1983. It was later renamed the “Moskva” in 1995. Designed to be carrier-killers, the cruisers of Class 1164 are equipped with 16 anti-ship launchers P-1000 Vulkan, or Volcano (SS-N-12 Sandbox anti-ship missiles, according to NATO classification).
Another two vessels, the landing ship Nikolay Filchenkov and the guard ship Smetlivy, will join the Russian naval unit later. They will be pass through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits by September 12-14 and will then head to the eastern Mediterranean.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has said the maneuvers are part of the “stage-by-stage rotation of warships and support ships of the standing naval force in the Mediterranean.”
The recent deployments are aimed at “complex monitoring” of the situation around Syria, military sources told Interfax earlier.
Russia’s standing naval force in the Mediterranean now involves landing craft carriers “Aleksandr Shabalin,” “Admiral Nevelskoy,” “Peresvet,” “Novocherkassk” and “Minsk” of Russia’s Black and Baltic Sea Fleets, as well as escort vessel “Neustrashimy,” and the anti-submarine ship “Admiral Panteleyev.”
“Admiral Panteleyev” anti-submarine ship returning to Vladivostok from Japanese port Hakodate (Hokkaido island).
Russian naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean come amid growing tension in the region, which sparked speculation that Russia was boosting its naval presence ahead of a possible US strike against Syria.
Previously, Russia’s defense officials cautioned against making connections between the relocation of warships and the Syrian crisis, saying the maneuvers do not depend on the situation and “will continue after it.”