A Russian-Syrian family leave passport control zone just after their arrival from Beirut in Moscow Domodedovo airport , Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013. The Kremlin's evacuation of Russians from Syria on Tuesday marks a turning point in its view of the civil war, representing increasing doubts about Bashar Assad's hold on power and a sober understanding that it has to start rescue efforts before it becomes too late. The operation has been relatively small-scale - involving fewer than 100 people, mostly women and children - but it marks the beginning of what could soon turn into a risky and challenging operation. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's foreign minister says that Moscow has no plans to launch a large-scale evacuation of its citizens from Syria, after 77 Russians left the troubled country and were flown out to Moscow.
Sergey Lavrov said that some 1,000 of tens of thousands of Russians residing in Syria want to leave the country in the midst of civil war that so far has killed over 60,000 people.
Lavrov said that Russia already had pulled out families of diplomats from Syria but has no immediate plan to reduce its Embassy staff, adding that there are contingency plans if the situation changes.
Russia has been the main protector of Syrian President Bashar Assad, shielding him from the United Nations sanctions over his crackdown on an uprising that began in March 2011.