Russia is helping both Iraq and Syria, by providing weapons to their armies, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with three radio stations.World Bulletin / News Desk
Russia is arming Iraq and Syria to help them fight ISIL, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, calling the armed group the main threat to his own country's security.
"ISIL is our main enemy at the moment. If only because hundreds of Russian citizens, hundreds of Europeans, hundreds of Americans fight alongside ISIL," he said in an interview with three radio stations. "They are already coming back... and to enjoy themselves could stage vile acts at home."
Russia has criticised air strikes by a U.S.-led coalition against ISIL positions in Syria and Iraq, and encouraged Washington to work with Syrian Bashar al-Assad in the battle against ISIL.
"We are helping both Iraq and Syria, possibly more effectively than anyone else, by providing weapons to their armies and security forces," Lavrov said, without giving details of the weapons.
Moscow claims the mainly Muslim North Caucasus region and President Vladimir Putin has warned that other countries could use Islam to try to weaken Russia.
Ties between Moscow and the West are at their lowest point in decades over the crisis in Ukraine, which was one of the main themes of the interview.
Lavrov said Nadezhda Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot who is being held in a Russian jail, could not be freed as part of prisoner swaps or hostage releases outlined in a deal reached on Feb. 12 to end fighting in east Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces.