Russia warns U.S. over extra troop deployment to Middle East

19.06.2019

Russia on Tuesday called for restraint to avoid escalation in the Middle East after the U.S. said it was deploying additional troops due to heightened tensions with Iran.

"We are urging all the sides to show restraint," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists in response to a question on the deployment. "We would prefer not to see any steps that could introduce additional tensions in the already unstable region."

The United States said on Monday it has approved the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East. Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the troops were being sent "for defensive purposes" as the U.S. has blamed Iran for last week's attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday that U.S. plans to increase its troop presence in the Middle East were aimed at provoking armed conflict.

Such actions "cannot be seen otherwise than as a deliberate course to provoke war," Ryabkov told journalists, quoted by RIA Novosti news agency. He said that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while visiting in Russia last month had stated that U.S. troops were in the region not to start war but prevent it.

Pompeo said at a news conference with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on 14 May that "we fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran."

"If that's the case, the US should refrain from further reinforcement of its presence and from other steps, including dragging and pushing its allies in various parts of the world into stepping up pressure on Iran," Ryabkov said.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated since the U.S. last year quit a multi-nation nuclear deal with Iran, a close ally of Russia.

Peskov said on Tuesday that "our starting point is still that Iran will remain within the framework of the nuclear deal and will maintain adherence to its obligations."    (AFP)

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