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US Gen warns ‘Ukraine issue could create instability in Middle East’


WASHINTON: A top US general warned the country’s senators that if Russian invades Ukraine, as many fear, it could create broader instability in the Middle East, including Syria. 

Asked about the potential for repercussions in the Middle East of a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kurilla said he believes that it could spill over into Syria, where Russia already has a military base and troops. If Russia does invade Ukraine, they would not hesitate to be able to act as a spoiler in Syria as well, said Kurilla, who previously served as a deputy at Central Command. He added that the US doesn’t believe Russia wants to go to war with the United States.

The United States faces a new era of strategic competition with China and Russia that is not confined to one geographical region and extends into the (Central Command) area of responsibility, said Kurilla. “As the United States rightfully prioritises competition with China, we must remain engaged in the Middle East and Central and South Asia,” he said. 

Russia has waged a military campaign in Syria since 2015, teaming up with Iran to help Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government reclaim control over most of the country after a devastating civil war. Belarus’ president said on Tuesday that he has no intention of sending troops to Syria to serve alongside Russian forces in the country, but held the door open for a potential deployment of military medics there.

President Alexander Lukashenko’s comment followed the publication of a draft agreement between Russia and Belarus that envisages the deployment of up to 200 Belarusian military personnel to Syria. The document released by the Russian government Monday is yet to be signed by the countries’ foreign and defense ministries. It states that Belarusian military personnel will act under operational control of the Russian military in Syria when deployed there.

The Belarusian leader has increasingly relied on the Kremlin’s political and financial support amid bruising Western sanctions triggered by his crackdown on domestic protests, has called for closer defense ties with Moscow and recently offered to host Russian nuclear weapons.

In recent weeks, Russia has moved troops from Siberia and the Far East to Belarus for sweeping joint drills. The deployment added to the Russian military buildup near Ukraine, fueling Western fears of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.


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