Russian media reports: S-300 sale to Syria cancelled

Russian paper 'Vedomisti' says Russia chose to withhold sale estimated at about $100 million from 2011 Syria deal.

Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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 week.
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 to them.”
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 time.
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 delivery.
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 SA-22.
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.
IDF 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 report.