Russia, one of Syria’s strongest allies, sold advanced S-300 antiship cruise missiles (aka Yakhontz missiles) to Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to American officials on Thursday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed on Thursday that Moscow’s shipment of the S- 300 missiles to Syria had no connection to Israel’s recent recent air strikes on Syria. He stated that “these contracts were signed long before air strikes on Syria were launched last year and now.”
The arms deal is just a case of Moscow’s honoring previous agreements, according to Lavrov, and he there have been no new contracts signed with Damascus.
The S-300 missiles have been made more effective than older versions because of their advanced radar system.
These missiles will enable Syria to impose a naval embargo which will prevent attempts by international forces to resupply Syrian rebels.
Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a summit in Sochi on Tuesday, spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and voiced his concerns about the sale of the state-of-the-art S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.
He also flew to Russia in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the sale of the missiles to Assad’s regime, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia would remain committed to previously signed arms deal “regarding agreements pertaining to aerial defense weapons.”
In a thinly veiled reference to Israel and its allies, like America and the UK, Lavrov further argued that “air defense methods” like the S-300 missile system “are a purely defensive system required to repel air attacks.” As long as “aggressive actions against a sovereign state” have not been planned, then Lavrov insists that there is “nothing to worry about.”
In a statement he made just last week, Lavrov said that Russia would not sell the S-300 advanced air defense system to Syria.
The Obama administration would like to see a Syrian peace summit organized, but countries such as Russia and China oppose this on the grounds that they say Iran must also be a participant in the proposed international conference intended to end Syria’s civil war.
For the Western states to exclude Iran from any proposed Syrian peace summit would be a limitation of the participants, in Lavrov’s opinion, one which could possibly predetermine the outcome of the talks.
On Thursday, CIA Director John Brennen currently in Israel, met with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in the Kirya. They convened to discuss the security developments in the Middle East. The on-going civil war in Syria and its impact on the security of the region was the specific focus of their meeting.
With Syria in the midst of a civil war, if Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime fell, Israel’s concern that Syria could potentially transfer weapons such as the S-300 missile system to radical terrorist forces like Hezbollah is a very real possibility. Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon voiced these concerns to Brennan.
Written by: Douglas R. Cobb