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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Russia makes unpleasant Christmas present to the West

The West is seriously concerned about the “Christmas present” from Russia – the shipment of a large batch of renowned S-300 missile complexes to Iran. The systems are capable of defending the nation against a possible air strike from the West. However, the European Union and the United States need first to look into other issues instead of blaming Russia in the first place. They particularly need to solve the problem of a country, which is about to become a NATO member.

Foreign experts refer to the deliveries of Russian S-300 missile complexes to Iran as an unpleasant Christmas surprise. The Daily Mail wrote, for example, that it may aggravate Russia’s relations with the West even further, with Britain and the USA, first and foremost.

Foreign journalists point out the fact that the majority of Russian news sources deny the sales of the S-300 systems. Foreign experts pay attention to contradictory pieces of information coming from Russia. The Los Angeles Times editors wrote, for instance, that sources at Russia’s military and diplomatic circles said that the systems had been prepared for shipment, while the Russian authorities continue to deny everything.

They also highlight the recent statement from deputy head of Iran’s parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs and National Security, Ismail Kosari, who said that Iran was expecting a shipment of Russia’s S-300 systems. The West does not have any doubts that the shipment will be made, they only try to guess, which kind of systems exactly Russia is selling to Iran.

US experts believe that Moscow is perhaps not going to sell the systems to Iran, although it wants to show the West that it could be capable of signing such a deal with the country. However, they add that the news about the possible delivery of S-300 missile systems has been confirmed by the US State Department and special services.

The West and Israel believe that the shipment of S-300 to Iran will disrupt the balance of forces in the Middle East. Quite on the contrary, Russia says that S-300 systems are not categorized as offensive weapons, and the delivery of these complexes to Iran does not violate any resolutions of the UN Security Council. To put it in a nutshell, Russia did not exclude an opportunity, taking into consideration the fact that Iran had previously reported about a series of defense deals with Moscow.

Western experts believe that the systems will be used to protect the air space in the area of Bushehr nuclear power plant and the uranium-enrichment works in Natants. It will be a lot difficult to destroy the nuclear objects in this case. It was never a problem before, because the majority of Iran’s own missile complexes are outdated. Iran would never be the winner in a possible conflict. The situation changed slightly after the country purchased 29 Tor-M1 missile complexes, although they can not protect the nation’s strategic objects from high altitude strikes.

Teheran has been trying to obtain 30 enhanced S-300 complexes for quite a time already. The USA and Israel did not let this happen. Washington introduced sanctions against Russia’s several defense enterprises. Everything changed after the five-day war in South Ossetia. Both Washington and Tel Aviv provided Georgia with political and military assistance.

Several experts said that the USA and Israel could strike a preemptive blow on Iran before the S-300 systems were deployed there. However, Israel would have to strike the country alone, because George W. Bush’s presidency expires in only several days. The new US president is not ready to use force against Iran, at least in the near future.

The Boston Globe wrote that the Russian administration is trying to haggle with Obama regarding the missile defense system in Eastern Europe. The Sunday Telegraph wrote that the S-300 systems would serve as the Sword of Damocles that would hit the West in case the United States continued to push Ukraine and Georgia towards NATO membership.

Western experts say that everything was clear already at the end of August, when Moscow agreed with Teheran to ship the systems via Belarus. Even Ehud Olmert’s visit to Moscow in September could not change the situation. Georgia used Israeli-made weapons to exterminate Russian citizens in South Ossetia, whereas Israel wanted to disrupt Russia’s arms deal and offer nothing in return.

Croatia ’s online publication Necenzurirano reported that a large batch of S-300 systems had been delivered to Iran from the Croatian port of Kraljevica on board Libyan ships in September 2008. Israeli journalists from The Jerusalem Post conducted their own investigation regarding the matter. They paid attention to the fact that the defense ministry of Israel neither confirmed nor rejected the information, but said that Zagreb had obtained a large batch of S-300 systems after the break-up of the USSR. Croatia supposedly wanted to get rid of the systems to be able to join NATO.

Consequently, the USA and the EU need to sort out the Croatian and the Libyan tracks first before they could blame Russia for all mortal sins. Croatia is becoming a full-fledged NATO member next year after all.

Sergei Balmasov

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