Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has announced that his country will sell advanced anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria, as agreed in a 2007 contract. Israel has expressed concern that the deal will endanger Israeli ships in the Mediterranean. The United States had also objected to the deal.
Syria supplies weapons to the Hizbullah terrorist army in southern Lebanon. During the Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah used weapons obtained from Iran to attack an Israeli warship, killing four soldiers and causing serious damage.
The missiles that will be sold to Damascus are P-800 Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles. They can carry a warhead weighing up to 200 kilograms, have a range of 300 kilometers, and are difficult to detect due to their ability to cruise near the water's surface.
Serdyukov said Russia sees “no cause for the concern” expressed by the U.S. and Israel. Russia does not believe that the weapons will make it into terrorist hands, he said.
“Undoubtedly, [the contract] would be fulfilled by the Russian side,” he stated.
In May, Russian officials announced that they had agreed to supply Syria with MiG-29 fighters, anti-aircraft artillery, anti-tank weapons, and short-range surface-to-air missiles. Israeli officials criticized the deal, and expressed skepticism as well, saying Syria cannot afford to pay for advanced weaponry.
At the same time, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev visited Damascus to discuss the possibility of Russia assisting Syria in building a nuclear power plant. While there, Medvedev visited Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.