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MOSCOW: Russia has begun deliveries of its most potent air defence systems to Iran, a Russian news agency reported.
Russia is currently fulfilling a contract to deliver S-300 air defence systems to Iran, RIA news agency reported quoting confidential sources in the Russian Defence Ministry.
The move has rattled Israel, which has immediately dispatched a senior Defence Ministry official to Russia to thwart the sale.
Moscow earlier met its obligations on supplying Tor-M1 systems to Iran and is currently implementing a contract to deliver S-300 systems, RIA said. Russia supplied 29 Tor-M1 short-range air-defence complexes to Iran a year ago under a $1.4-billion contract.
The S-300 is a long-range air defence system. Earlier defence sources said Moscow was planning to sell Iran five batteries of 300PMU-1 launchers at a price of $800 million. A typical S-300 battery contains 48 missiles on 12 mobile launchers. The S-300PMU can intercept missiles and aircraft from more than 120 km away.
The powerful combination of advanced short-range and long-range air defence systems will enable Iran to counter any Israeli or U.S. attacks. Israeli Defence Ministry official Amos Gilad arrived in Moscow on Wednesday to try and persuade the Russians to cancel the deal on the grounds that it could upset the balance of power in West Asia. Russia has rejected the Israeli protest.
Russia’s military and technical cooperation with Iran has a positive impact on stability in this region,” deputy head of Russia’s Federal Military Technical Cooperation Service Alexander Fomin told RIA.
We have developed, are developing and will continue to develop this cooperation further. The region’s security to a large extent depends on this, he added.
In another move that strengthens Russia’s influence in West Asia, Moscow offered to give Lebanon as a gift 10 MiG-29 fighter jets. U.S. media described the offer as a slap to the U.S., which has refused to provide Lebanon with modern warplanes that could threaten Israel.
Lebanon’s Defence Minister Elias Murr said the unexpected offer made his trip to Moscow this week “the most important visit I have made since my appointment as Minister of Defence.
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