MOSCOW, August 30 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow has no knowledge of Syria having made payments for Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, a Kremlin aide said Friday.
“We don’t know about that,” presidential aide Yury Ushakov said, when asked whether the Assad regime was making payments under a previously signed contract for Russian surface-to-air missile systems.
All previously signed military supply contracts with Damascus are being honored, he said, adding “this is common practice for any state” and is “not in conflict with any international rules.”
“There are no bans in place, and our collaboration in the military technology sphere is proceeding ahead,” Ushakov said.
Earlier in the day, Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said Moscow has signed no new arms supply contracts with Damascus since the start of the civil war in Syria. Corporation Deputy CEO Viktor Komardin said his company is currently implementing contracts signed prior to 2011, which are “100 percent defensive.”
Syrian President Bashar Assad claimed in an interview with Izvestia published Monday that all the contracts Syria has previously signed with Russia were being implemented, despite pressure from the West, but did not clarify the status of a deal for Moscow to deliver advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Damascus.
Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed in June a deal had been signed with Damascus for the S-300 system, but said Russia had not shipped the weapons for fear of disrupting “the balance of power in the region.” Russian media reports said Moscow and Damascus had signed a $1.1 billion deal for the S-300 systems.
The S-300 would be a largely useless weapon for use in the civil war that the Syrian government has been waging since 2011 because the Syrian rebels have no air force, but would be a huge obstacle to Western powers opposed to the Assad regime if they tried to carry out air strikes against Damascus, analysts have previously told RIA Novosti.
Russia is currently locked in commercial arbitration with Syria’s ally and neighbor Iran over a suspended contract for delivery of S-300 missiles.