London: Russia has defended its arms sales to Syria, saying it is for purely defensive purposes.
The statement from Russia came after reports that Moscow had delivered advanced anti-ship missiles to the Damascus regime.
According to the Guardian, Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, did not confirm it directly, but said that Moscow`s weapons sales would not in any way alter the balance of forces in this region or give any advantage in the fight against the opposition.
The missiles supplied to Bashar al-Assad`s forces appeared designed to deter any seaborne western intervention.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russia had built up its naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean and now has a dozen or more warships off the Syrian coast.
The Russian military moves signalled Moscow `s determination to back the Assad regime and dampened hopes of a new international peace conference on Syria, the report added.