Russia on Tuesday called for restraint to avoid escalation in the Middle East after the US 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 Monday it has approved the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the troops were being sent “for defensive purposes” as the US 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 US 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 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while visiting Russia last month had stated that US troops were in the region not to start war but to prevent it.
Pompeo said at a news conference with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on May 14 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 US last year quit a multi-nation nuclear deal with Iran, a close ally of Russia.
Peskov said 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.”