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Putin’s Desire to Play the Iran Card with the West

Saturday 21 February 2015

Iran’s Fars News Agency – affiliated with the country’s security circles – quoted a Russian media outlet and wrote that if the West begins arming Ukraine in its battle against its separatists, Russia may provide Iran with its new S-400 anti-aircraft missile system.

The reports quotes the Russian outlet to have written, “Another reality overlooked by those who wish to arm Kiev is Putin’s ability to start a new and different tension beyond the issue of Ukraine. Iran would be the worst case scenario for this.

Russia’s defense minister visited Iran last January and signed a military cooperation agreement between Iran and Russia. One issue stood out as a warning in this visit. Retired Russian general Leonid Ivashov summed up this trip as a step toward economic and military technology cooperation at least for defense systems such as the S-300 and S-400. We may provide these systems to them.”

The Fars report continues, “In the context of the Ukraine issue, one should not underestimate Putin’s desire to use the Iran card.”

While news outlets affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards were elated over this Russian report, Iran’s ambassador to Moscow sounded more cautious. He told state-run IRNA news agency, “We hope that our Russian friends will deliver the S-300 defense systems to us in 2015.”

Prior to this Iran’s defense minister had written to his Russian counterpart announcing his readiness to travel to Russia.

The delivery of the S-300 anti-air missile systems continues to be in question. At some point the concern in Iran was so serious that some news outlets affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards claimed that the IRGC did not need them and would build its own better version! Just a few days ago, Mashreq website affiliated to Iran’s security apparatus wrote a piece titled, “In view of the “Belief in Iranian” is there still need for the S-300?” in which it argued that it would be better for the country to rely on domestic Iranian potentials for the country’s military needs. “After Russia’s non-commitment to the sale of the S-300 missile system resurfaced, Iranian officials revealed their plans to build a similar platform domestically. The important visit of the Russian defense minister to our country and the announcement of an agreement between the two countries to resolve the S-300 issue, has once again revived the defense agreement.” The writer also argued that while Iran had concluded the need for a system similar to S-300 for its air defense, the country’s specialists had shown that they did not need foreign equipment and that the purchase of S-300 was made to save time.

Sharq website even claimed that the Iranian version of the missile system had more capabilities in comparison to the Russian system. “The Iranian system can track 373 separate targets which was because of a difference in the nature of the threat facing Iran.”

The question remains that if the Iranian system was more advanced and suitable, then why is the purchase of the Russian system still pursued and why is this again the talk among Iranian leaders.

After Iran and Russia and inked the agreement for the sale of the Russian S-300 missile system, the Russians put the delivery on hold in 1389 because of the restrictions imposed by the UN Security Council resolutions on trade and dealings with Iran because of its nuclear program. This suspension came despite the fact that the purchase agreement between Iran and Russia had been signed five years earlier. At some point in time later, Iran had announced its intention to fight the non-delivery in international forums and to seek compensation. The Russians argued against going to an international forum to resolve the issue. According to Tabnak website affiliated with Mohsen Rezai, Iran’s ministry of defense had submitted a $4 billion claim to an arbitration court in Geneva over the issue.


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