Russia warns of large-scale conflict in ME as tensions rise

TEHRAN, Jul. 27 (MNA) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned of a large-scale armed conflict in the Middle East as tensions have been growing between the United States and Iran.

Speaking at a BRICS foreign ministers meeting in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, Lavrov said the US steps against Iran had led to a harsh escalation in the Persian Gulf region.

“The situation has reached a dangerous point fraught with the risk of a large-scale military clash. This cannot be allowed to happen,” he said.

Tensions have been running high between the US and Iran since Washington unilaterally withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal last year. Washington has since been imposing rounds of sanctions on Tehran and its trade partners.

Lavrov called on Iran to exercise restraint and the UK, France and Germany to meet their obligations under the Iran nuclear deal.

This is while the situation between the US and Iran has been worsening since early May this year, when the US ordered the accelerated deployment of a strike group to the Persian Gulf, citing an alleged threat from Iran.

later in May, four oil tankers were allegedly sabotaged in the Emirati port of Fujairah. In early June, two other oil tankers were damaged by explosions in the Gulf of Oman. The US blamed both incidents on Iran. Tehran dismissed any involvement and said the incidents were “suspicious,” an indication that it believed the US may have been staging a false flag.

On June 20, a US spy drone and another, crewed aircraft entered Iranian airspace. Iranian air defense forces shot the drone down but chose not to target the manned plane.

Later, the UK seized a supertanker carrying Iranian oil near Gibraltar, alleging that it was violating unilateral European Union sanctions by carrying crude for Syria. While Iran denied that the ship was bound for Syria, it condemned the seizure.

Tehran later impounded a British-flagged ship in the Strait of Hormuz for failing to stop after hitting an Iranian fishing boat, a violation of international maritime rules.

London has since called for the formation of a European-led mission to the Persian Gulf to ensure “safe passage” in the region. Washington has also announced its own separate plans to form an international military coalition in the Persian Gulf.

Britain and the US have yet to provide specific plans for the announced missions.

On Tuesday, Moscow dismissed Washington’s plan for a maritime coalition, publishing its own “concept of collective security” seeking to lessen tensions in the volatile maritime region. According to the document, the initiative seeks to create a mechanism whereby Persian Gulf security would be ensured by the mutual cooperation of regional nations while disavowing permanent foreign military presence.

MNA/TASS

News Code 148096

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