Kerry warns Russia about 'destabilizing' arms sales to Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a warning to Russia on Wednesday about the sale of advanced missile defense systems to Syria, saying it would be “destabilizing” for Israel’s security.

Speaking to reporters in Rome, Kerry said that the U.S. has expressed its concerns about how the possible sale of S-300 batteries would affect Israel, according to The Associated Press.

He did not address what it could mean for the two-year Syrian civil war, however.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Russia was preparing to sell the weapons to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and that Israel had warned U.S. officials about the transaction.

ADVERTISEMENT
"I think we have made it crystal clear that we would prefer that Russia is not supplying assistance," Kerry said at a news conference with Italy’s new foreign minister, according to the Journal.

White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to confirm reports about the weapons sales, only noting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone to President Obama on Wednesday.

“We have consistently called on Russia to cut off the Assad regime’s supply of Russian weapons, including air defense systems that are destabilizing to the region,” Carney told the press aboard Air Force One.

The potential arms sale comes after Russia and the United States agreed to establish a peace council to help bring about a political transition in Syria.


Carney said Wednesday that the council was a “step forward,” while reiterating that Assad could not be part of a post-transition government.

“We do view it as a step forward, the fact that Russia, with the United States, recommitted to the Geneva Framework to a political transition, and we will continue work on that basis towards what we believe ultimately has to happen, which is a political transition to a post-Assad Syria,” Carney said.

Kerry on Wednesday also announced $100 million in new U.S. aid to help support Syrian refugees.