Russian Plans to Supply S-300s to Iran - What Does it Portend?

What is really behind Putin's idea to transfer missiles that are not even the most advanced to Iran.

Alexander Boot,

OpEds Alexander Boot
Alexander Boot
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Don’t know about Israel, but I’m scared to death.

Putin has decided to supply S-300s to Iran, thereby expecting gratitude from the ayatollahs and indignation from… well, just about everyone else.

Both his expectations have been fulfilled, but the ayatollahs have reasons to be upset too. First, because he has responded to world outcries by saying that it "won't be anytime soon."

And second? Fair enough, the S-300, the world’s first fully automated AA missile system, is a fine weapon. But it was developed in 1979, when the Soviet Union was still alive and kicking.

At that time the S-300 was the best such system in the world. But it no longer is. For in 2004 the Russians developed a significant upgrade, the S-400.

And just as the S-300 supplies to Iran were horrifying the Israelis, Egyptians, Saudis, Americans and Europeans, the Russians agreed to arm China with the S-400.


What Putin desperately needs in the Middle East is a full-blown war. It’s in this context that the S-300 transfer must be viewed.
Both transactions will make Putin and his gang a few billion richer. But no one, not even Putin and his gang, exports strategic armaments just for the money. Strategic exports always pursue strategic objectives.

In China’s hands, the S-400 will nullify Taiwan’s capability of striking back at China’s targets should the communists decide to act on their threat to reclaim the island.

That would practically guarantee America’s entry into the fray, with unpredictable consequences, of which nuclear war could be one. Even barring cataclysms, Russia stands to gain immensely from China and the US becoming bitter enemies.

China is busily colonising Russia’s Far East, de facto if not yet de jure. Russia’s vital natural resources, both current and future, are under threat.

Yet China’s army is so powerful that there’s precious little Russia can do about this, short of a preventive nuclear strike. China, however, is eminently capable of responding in kind, so the nuclear option isn’t really an option.

At the same time, Putin desperately needs, and is working towards, a global confrontation with the US. The need isn’t so much strategic as political and existential.

During the Cold War both countries were recognised as global powers. America still enjoys that status, but Russia doesn’t, and the burr under Putin’s blanket is getting sharper and sharper.

The little KGB monster needs to be the big man on the block, and he knows that unless he plays that role convincingly he won’t stay in power (and possibly alive).

Vlad isn’t Peter Hitchens – he knows how little his notorious 84 per cent support means in a country like Russia.

His personality was formed in the organisation that specialised in making the masses wildly enthusiastic – or else. Nor does he forget that Ceausescu’s support stood at 95 per cent two days before he was shot and all of Romania jubilantly danced in the streets.

Vlad’s political and physical life depends on the image of power he projects. The Russians love power – and pounce on those perceived as lacking it. Hence the numerous photos of his muscular torso. Hence his judo. Hence his shows of strength in Chechnya, Georgia and the Ukraine.

And hence also his strategic vision of having China and America bang heads over Taiwan. Vlad doesn’t want Taiwan to have her own deterrent. He wants America to get into the act.

When it comes to Iran, Putin’s benefit is even more immediate. Russia doesn’t just want the Middle East to be destabilised – thanks to the US aggression in which we so lamentably participated, it’s destabilised already.

What Putin desperately needs in the Middle East is a full-blown war. It’s in this context that the S-300 transfer must be viewed.

Thanks to Nato’s criminal acquiescence, the ayatollahs, whose sanity isn’t indisputable, are but a few months away from acquiring nuclear weapons. What with the delivery systems already in place, they’ll be able to hit most of Western Europe and all of the Middle East – including the country they wish to “puke out of the region”, in their poetic phrase.

Granted, they’ve just signed a treaty with America promising not to make the bomb for 10 years, in exchange for sanctions being lifted. Yet it takes credulity that’s nothing short of touching to believe that they’ll comply.

After all, Iran has broken every previous agreement related to weaponising uranium enrichment. That’s why the country is now several months away from having enough radioactive matter to build nuclear warheads.

Obama was perfectly nonchalant about all that. If Iran doesn’t comply, he explained, America will consider every response, including the military one.

The military response he clearly had in mind was that America would let Israel off the leash, encouraging her to hit Iran’s nuclear facilities in the same manner in which she once took out Iraq’s.

Now Israel can’t afford the luxury of thinking on a long-term scale. A nuclear bomb in the ayatollah’s hands would endanger the country’s very survival.

Moreover, considering the rather, how shall I put it kindly, tense situation between the Shiite and Sunni brands of Islam, the Israelis aren’t the only Middle Easterners scared to death. The Arabs, especially the Egyptians and Saudis, are quaking in their sandals too.

Consequently, when America made her overtures to the ayatollahs, the current president of Egypt, who clearly doesn’t share Obama’s trust in their good nature, begged Netanyahu to bomb Iran’s nuclear plant at Bushehr straight away.

“Please, Bibi,” he pleaded. “We’ll make it worth your while. You need more fuel? We’ll give it to you. But for Allah’s sake, do something. Those Allah-awful S-300s will be operational in three months!”

There’s the rub. The S-300s will greatly reduce Israel’s ability to do what Bibi’s friend Abdel asked, possibly nullify it. Israel would need Stealth bombers to do that, but Obama won’t sell them to her.

That’s why Bibi rang Putin, explaining the situation and asking Vlad to keep the S-300 in his pocket. “Don’t be such an alarmist, Bibi,” replied the KGB colonel. “The S-300 is a purely defensive weapon.”

So it is. That’s why Iran will use it to defend its Bushehr plant and other facilities as nuclear warheads roll off the assembly line. The S-300 is defensive. The nuclear warheads aren’t.

This is something Israel simply can’t afford. Obama or no Obama, she has to fight or die. And she has a window of about three months to do so.

A full-scale war in the Middle East would be a godsend to Putin. Economically, the price of oil would probably quadruple, enriching Vlad and his gang way beyond the lousy couple of billion they’ll get for their S-300s and S-400s.

Strategically, Russia will again act as both peacemaker and king maker in the Middle East. More important, just as the 1956 Suez crisis made the West forget what Russia was doing to Hungary, a massive war in the Middle East will give Vlad a green light in the Ukraine, the Baltics and anywhere else he fancies.

What price appeasement, Mr Obama? On the credit side, there may be another Nobel in it for you. On the debit side, the world may go up in flames. How do you like what Americans call the bottom line?




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