Russia has suspended the sale of the advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile
system to Syria, a Russian daily reported on Wednesday, in what could be a
possible outcome of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Israel earlier this
Both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres
discussed Syria with Putin.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond
to the report. An Israeli official said that, “Israel raised certain concerns
with the Russians when they were here. And we hope they will be attentive
The Vedomosti business paper reported that Russia chose to
withhold the sale, estimated at about $100 million. The deal, previously
unknown, was reportedly signed between Almaz- Antey – Russia’s top defense
contractor – and Syria in 2011.
One of the most advanced multi-target
anti-aircraft missile systems in the world, the S-300 has a reported ability to
track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12 at the same
Russia signed a similar deal to sell the S-300 to Iran in 2007 but
canceled it in 2010 due to United Nations arms embargo that had been imposed on
the Islamic Republic.
In recent years, Israel has invested significant
diplomatic clout in convincing Moscow to suspend the delivery to Iran and a 2010
deal to sell Russia Israeli-made drones was reportedly done to stop the
While Syria might not have the S-300, it has spent the past few
years upgrading its air defense capabilities and is believed to have spent $3
billion on advanced Russian systems such as the SA-15, SA-17 and
As a result, the Israel Air Force has modified the way it flies in
the North and particularly when conducting missions over Lebanon, where it
continues to fly to gather intelligence on Hezbollah activities.
Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.- Gen. Yair Naveh recently revealed that in the first
few hours of a war with Syria, the IAF would need to work to neutralize the
systems before conducting other operations.
“These have already been
transferred to the Syrians and may one day be transferred from Syria to
Hezbollah,” Naveh said. “The existence of these systems creates a reality in
which the IAF will need several hours to first deal with the air defense systems
before turning to other missions.”
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this