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Russia warns US over extra troop deployment to Middle East

An oil tanker ablaze in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jun 18, 2019, 03.07 PM (IST)

Russia on Tuesday urged the United States and Iran to show restraint as it warned against the additional troop approval in the Middle East by the US.

Speaking to local media, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, "We are urging all the sides to show restraint", adding, "We would prefer not to see any steps that could introduce additional tensions in the already unstable region."

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also told the US to cease actions that looked like a conscious attempt to provoke war with Iran, news agency Reuters reported.

"Now what we see are unending and sustained US attempts to crank up political, psychological, economic and yes military pressure on Iran in quite a provocative way. They (these actions) cannot be assessed as anything but a conscious course to provoke war," Ryabkov was cited as saying.

If Washington did not want war it had to show it, he said.

"If that's really how it is then the US should step back from reinforcing its military presence," said Ryabkov.

The US on Monday approved the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East while it is in the midst of soaring tension with Iran.

Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement that the troops were being sent "for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East." 

"The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behaviour by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region," Shanahan said.

The US has blamed Iran for last week's attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a charge Tehran has denied as "baseless."

"The United States does not seek conflict with Iran," the statement said, adding that the deployment aimed "to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests."

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated ever since the US quit a multi-nation nuclear deal with Iran. 

Washington has imposed crippling sanctions, bolstered its military presence in the region and blacklisted Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.

(With inputs from agencies)

Story highlights

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also told the US to drop what it called provocative plans to deploy more troops to the Middle East or risk war with Iran, news agency Reuters reported.