U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (L) at the State Department in Washington, US, October 3, 2018. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON — Russia’s deployment of a sophisticated missile defense system in Syria amounts to a “very serious escalation” of the conflict there, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.
Speaking with reporters in Washington, the secretary offered his gravest warning yet to Moscow after failing to dissuade his Russian counterparts from proceeding with the S-300 transfer during talks in New York last week.
US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, warned last month that the deployment of the S-300, which targets both missiles and aircraft, would risk complicating a careful balance of air power in Syria, where warplanes fly from Russia, Israel, and the US-led coalition against Islamic State militants.
"We consider this a very serious escalation," Pompeo said. In late September, he warned the Trump administration is prepared to hold Russia "accountable" if it proceeds with the sale, but has yet to outline consequences.