Russia Suspends Missile Contract with Syria

Russia’s main weapons producer suspends its contract with Syria to supply S-300 long-range missile systems.

Elad Benari,

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

Russia’s main weapons producer has allegedly suspended its contract with Syria to supply S-300 long-range missile systems, the Russian daily Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

The report cited unnamed sources within the military-industrial complex.

Russian television network RT noted that the very fact of the contract’s existence was not known until it was revealed in an annual report made only last week and published online by the makers of the S-300 systems, Almaz-Antey.

The report states that the company’s largest contracts are with Algeria and Syria, which signed a contract for $105 million.

The Almaz-Antey report also says that deliveries on the Syrian contract are expected to be made between 2012 and 2013. Vedomosti cited two anonymous sources, however, who said deliveries have been put on the back-burner “after a direct order from above.”

RT reported that many are speculating on the potential reasons for such a move, with some suggesting Moscow has decided to placate Israel and the United States. Others, RT noted, have suggested that Damascus may be strapped for cash and simply cannot afford the S-300 complex.

No Russian officials have yet commented on the matter, but President Vladimir Putin had previously said the arms that Russia delivers to Syria cannot be used in civil conflicts.

Reports several months ago said that Russian warships that have reached waters off Syria were carrying, among other things, Russian technical advisors who will help the Syrians set up an array of S-300 missiles.

Despite the mounting opposition in the West and even in the Arab world against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his assaults on protesters, Russia has maintained its support for Assad.

Russia, which has shipped billions of dollars’ worth of missiles, tanks, artillery and other military gear to Syria over more than four decades, has continued to do so during the 16-month-old uprising against Assad.

A recent report in The Associated Press revealed some weapons systems Russia has recently shipped to Syria or pledged to deliver.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov two weeks ago accused the United States of supplying weapons to Syria's opposition. He did so hours after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton charged that Moscow is sending a new shipment of attack helicopters to Damascus.

Lavrov said that supplying “anti-air defense systems” to Assad "in no way violates international laws.” Reflecting an increasing Cold War attitude, he added, "That contrasts with what the United States is doing with the opposition, which is providing arms to the Syrian opposition which are being used against the Syrian government.”