Russia is prepared to supply Syria with defensive weapons, the Russian foreign minister said on Thursday following a meeting between the two countries' leaders in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.
"We are ready, and Dmitry Medvedev has confirmed this, to review a Syrian request to purchase new types of weapons," Sergei Lavrov said following the meeting between Medvedev and Assad. "We will supply Syria primarily with weapons of a defensive nature that will not disturb the strategic balance in the region," he added, according to Ria Novosti.
During the meeting, the Syrian side expressed its support for Russia's position in its response to the "aggression launhed by Georgia against South Ossetia and condemned the double standard criteria applied by some countries against Russia in this matter," Syria's state run SANA news agency reported. "We in Syria are totally keen on the strategic and historic relations between our two countries which have constantly worked for security and peace in the world," President al-Assad said after the talks.
Earlier, in remarks to Russian business daily Kommersant the Syrian leader said: "Our position is we are ready to cooperate with Russia in any project that can strengthen its security... I think Russia really has to think of the response it will make when it finds itself closed in a circle."
Israeli media reported on Monday that Russia was planning to deploy Iskander surface missiles in Syria and its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, in response to a proposed U.S. missile shield in Central Europe and arm sales by the U.S. and Israel to Georgia.
When asked if Syria would agree to consider the Russian air defense offer, Assad said: "In principle, yes. However, we have yet to think about it." The issue of installing Iskander missile-defense systems had been raised by Syria several years ago, he added.