Russia And The Middle East

Russia And The Middle East

Russia’s decision to go ahead with the sale of the advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran has angered its critics in the West and alarmed the Israeli government in equal measure.

The decision to sell the S-300 to Iran is not new, the contract goes back to at least the latter part of 2010.

But for a variety of reasons – concern about Iran’s nuclear activities and with intense lobbying from Israel and the West – the Russians never went ahead and delivered the system.

Critics argue sophisticated air defenses weaken the military threat against Iran, and thus weaken the pressure upon it to make and abide by a final nuclear deal.

Russia’s view is this is solely a defensive system delivered to a country in a highly volatile region.

Once delivered the S-300 will give Iran an additional outer-tier to its air defenses.

It is no wonder-weapon, but it certainly makes attacking Iran’s nuclear infrastructure from the air that much harder, perhaps ruling out a go-it-alone strike by the Israelis.

Mr Trenin says the Kremlin is convinced that “its understanding of the region is superior to that of the US and that sticking with one’s allies, rather than ditching them, pays off”.

Mr Putin, he argues, believes that Russia needs to return to the Middle East, albeit in a wholly different role to that of the Soviet Union.

And the transformation has been significant. “Four years ago,” says Mr Trenin, “Russia was present in the Middle East mainly through its beach-going holidaymakers. Now it has an ally [President Assad in Syria] stubbornly and successfully resisting attempts to topple him.

“It is practicing mediation on its own [two rounds of Syria reconciliation talks in Moscow], and in Iran it has a regional power as a partner.”

“It is practicing mediation on its own [two rounds of Syria reconciliation talks in Moscow], and in Iran it has a regional power as a partner.”

Read more at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32383365

 

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