Putin: Syria Doesn't Yet Have S-300

The delivery of Russian missile systems to Syria is legal but the contract "has not yet been realized," says Russian President.

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Elad Benari,

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

The delivery of Russian missile systems to Syria is legal but the contract "has not yet been realized," Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

Putin justified the delivery of S-300 missiles at a joint press conference during a summit meeting with European Union President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, RIA Novosti reported.

“We do not want to disturb the balance in the region,” he said, adding, “The contract was signed several years ago. It has not yet been realized."

Putin praised the capabilities of the Russian-made S-300s, which can engage 12 targets simultaneously at distances of 200 kilometers and heights of up to 27 kilometers.

“The S-300 systems are, really, one of the best air defense systems in the world – probably the best,” he said, according to RIA Novosti.

“Russian deliveries of weapons to Syria are implemented on the basis of recognized and transparent international contracts,” said Putin. “They do not violate any international position. And they are implemented exclusively, and in their entirety, within the framework of international law.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met Putin several weeks ago, in an effort to forestall the transfer of the missiles to Syria. In recent days, there have been reports that the transfer of the advanced systems would not be carried out, but Moscow denied the reports.

Assad suggested last week that his government has already received the advanced air defense missiles, but Russian media reported they had not yet been delivered. Sources in Moscow said that the S-300s that Russia has promised Syria will be delivered only in 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that Russia’s deal to sell advanced S-300 missile systems to Syria endangers Israel’s security.

"It is not helpful to have a lot of other ammunition and other supplies overtly going in not just from the Russians -- and they are supplying that kind of thing -- but also from the Iranians and Hizbullah," he added.

He added the delivery would have a "profoundly negative impact on the balance of interests and the stability of the region, and it does put Israel at risk.”

"And it is not, in our judgment, responsible because of the size of the weapon, the nature of the weapon and what it does to the region in terms of Israel's security," Kerry added.