Russia has weighed in on ongoing discussions between Turkey and NATO about the possibility of stationing NATO missile defense systems on the Turkey-Syria border, saying that it would destabilize the situation. From RIA Novosti:
"The militarization of the Turkish-Syrian border would be an alarming signal," said ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich. "It would do nothing to foster stability in the region."
"Our advice to our Turkish colleagues is to use their influence on the Syrian opposition to draw them closer to dialogue, instead of flexing their muscles and taking the situation down a dangerous path," he added.
A NATO team is making a visit to Turkey next week to assess the possibility of deploying a system there, and NATO is expected to approve the request. Nevertheless, the AP reports that the systems could still be several weeks from being deployed:
Due to the complexity and size of the Patriot batteries, their radars, command-and-control centers, communications and support facilities, they cannot be sent quickly by air to Turkey, officials said.
"These are not drop-and-go systems," said an official who could not be identified in line with standing NATO regulations.
Additional time will be needed to install the systems, realign their radars and link them into Turkey's air defense network before the Patriots can be considered fully operational, the official said.
Russia's objection seems to stem from its fear that the systems could be part of a military buildup by international forces to invade Syria to try to bring down the current government there. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to allay such fears, saying that "This is entirely a defensive measure against possible attacks from the other side."
Taken by themselves, the Patriots are defensive. But they also would be an integral part of any land invasion plan, as well, should Turkey or NATO or anyone else decide to do that: in the case of an invasion from Turkey, rocket attacks against Turkey, which have until this point have been sporadic, would undoubtedly accelerate. So is Russia right to be worried and in trying to nip such an operation in the bud? Or are they being paranoid? Whatever the case, it's another piece of evidence that Turkey-Russia relations are suffering as a result of the Syria crisis.