Russia’s foreign minister on Monday said U.S. plans to send 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East would lead to increased risks of conflict, and he voiced the hope that “sensible voices” arguing against “war against Iran” will be heeded.
Pentagon officials are stressing that deployment of the 1,500 troops is a defensive and deterrent measure, and that the U.S. does not seek conflict with Iran.
But Sergei Lavrov, speaking alongside his visiting Cuban counterpart in Moscow, took a different view.
“Risks always grow with the buildup of military potential,” he said. “I hope that sensible voices that come from Washington, including statements by former military leaders, politicians and diplomats on the recklessness of the idea of war against Iran, will be heard.”
Lavrov expressed optimism that that would be the case, adding that “not all U.S. administration officials are obsessed with aggression.”
Pentagon officials discussing the deployment Friday said the troop request from U.S. Central Command commander U.S. Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie was in response to “credible intelligence” of plans by Iran and its surrogates to attack U.S. military personnel and allies in the region.
About 600 of the personnel are already in the region, staffing a recently-deployed Patriot battery missile defense system.
Joint Staff director Vice Adm. Michael Gilday told a briefing that the other 900 would focus on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) functions, while military engineers would “harden” existing defenses for U.S. forces in the region, and a squadron of 12 land-based fighter planes would “defend or respond if we have to” to the threat.