Russian air defense missiles have been delivered to Cyprus despite vows by Turkey to stop the weapons from reaching the island, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry refused to confirm or deny the report by the respected Segodnya daily. However, ministry spokesman Valery Nesterushkin reiterated the long-held Russian argument that the S-300 missiles would threaten no one."We have been giving repeated explanations that the missiles are a defensive weapon," Nesterushkin said. "The presence of weapons on the island is the outcome of the unsettled conflict between the Turkish and Greek population on the island."
Russia's Rosvooruzheniye arms trading monopoly denied the delivery had taken place and said the missiles would be sent to Cyprus in August, the Interfax news agency reported.
Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Sezgin reiterated that his country would not tolerate the missiles' deployment in Cyprus. "If the S-300 missiles are deployed on Cyprus, we will do whatever is necessary," the Anatolia news agency quoted him as saying.
Turkey has threatened to use force to prevent the missiles' deployment.
In Nicosia, government spokesman Christos Stylianides refused to comment on the newspaper report.
The S-300, capable of shooting down aircraft and missiles, is a Russian equivalent of the U.S. Patriot missiles.
Greece has said it will come to the aid of Cyprus if it is attacked by Turkey, raising fears of a military conflict between the two NATO allies.
Turkey maintains about 30,000 troops on Cyprus since it invaded the island in 1974, following a failed coup by supporters of union with Greece.
Cyprus has said it is ready to cancel the $200 million missile deal if there is substantial progress toward the reunification of the island and if Turkey accepts its proposal for demilitarization.