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Russia may supply Iran with advance air defense system

S-400 batteries
With the latest escalations between Washington and Tehran and US bullying the Mideast, Moscow is considering ways to possibly beef up Iran's military capabilities.

Russian officials are weighing the possible risks of selling missile defense equipment to Iran following the military escalation between the Islamic Republic and the United States triggered by the Jan. 3 US assassination of Qasem Soleimani, leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Quds Force. Some among Russia's political elite believe closer military-technical cooperation would benefit both countries.
Moscow and Beijing then condemned the US assassination of the Iranian General as against any known international laws.  

Iraqi  government called the operation against Suleimani a violation of the country's sovereignty. In addition, Iraqi parliament voted to break the agreement with the Western coalition to combat the terrorist organization and the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.

On Thursday this week, Russian Foreign ministry severely censured US threat to assassinate Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, the new commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), as “unacceptable.”

“[We need to] offer Iran an agreement on military cooperation and urgently sell the most modern weapons so that no one dares throw anything in the direction of Iran,” Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party, said earlier this month."

He expressed confidence that the S-400 or S-500 missile defense systems would be able to “close the entire sky over Iran.”

Russia should invite Iran to conclude an agreement on military cooperation, involving the sale of weapons and the presence of the navy, said LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, according to a report.
Russia had previously considered selling military equipment to Iran, whose capabilities are now significantly limited by the UN arms embargo related to its nuclear program, but that should end in the fall of 2020, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov emphasized in December.

The latest annual report by the US Defense Intelligence Agency states, “Iran’s potential acquisitions after the lifting of UNSCR 2231 restrictions include Russian Su-30 fighters, Yak-130 trainers and T-90 MBTs.” It adds, “Tehran has also shown interest in acquiring S-400 air defense systems and Bastion coastal defense systems from Russia.”
Regardless of such reports, Russian experts concede moves are possible in the case of anti-aircraft defense systems.

Russian military sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that negotiations for Iran to buy Russian weaponry, including the latest equipment, intensified in April 2019 during the 8th Moscow Conference on International Security organized by the Ministry of Defense.

In May, Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami attended an inter-agency consultation in Moscow. Bloomberg reported at the time that Russia had not responded to Iran’s official inquiries regarding a potential S-400 purchase.

However, the latest development in the middle east as necessitated by the US maximum economic pressure against Tehran after US president Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal of US from the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, assassination of the Iranian General and the latest threats to even do more called for more military cooperation between Tehran and ally like Moscow.

Meanwhile, Military-technical cooperation with Iran would make Russia a target of international pressure. 

This happened in the case of Iran's accidental downing of a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 near Tehran on Jan. 8, killing all 176 passengers on board. On Jan. 14, Volodymyr Yelchenko, Ukraine's ambassador to the United States, said that those who gave the order to fire on the plane, and possibly those “who supplied these missiles,” which were Russian, should be held responsible for the crash. 

Yelchenko believes there are “many components” to the tragedy, including the alleged “Russian footprint” in the form of the Tor missile system. He stressed that it is necessary “to talk about a certain international responsibility.”

Russia had previously decided to supply the Iranians with an S-300 system to beef up their defense capabilities and stimulate negotiations on the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA) nuclear deal. That's how Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained the decision after the Russian president lifted the ban on S-300 deliveries to Iran in 2015.

MORE:

Moscow Vehemently Condemns US “Unacceptable” Threats To Assassinate New Quds Force Commander

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