Russia is not in talks with Syria about supplying the Assad regime with its S-300 advanced air defense system and does not think they are needed, Vladimir Kozhin, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was quoted as saying on Friday in the Russian newspaper Izvestiya. Kozhin oversees military assistance to other countries.
The comments follow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Moscow this week, in which he presented to Putin "Israel's obligation and right to defend itself against Iranian aggression, from Syrian territory."
The Syrian army has for years sought to obtain the S-300 system to counter Israeli air superiority, and Israel has in turn lobbied the Kremlin to refrain from supplying them. Iran received its first S-300 batteries in 2016, nearly a decade after Tehran paid for it.
Russia last month hinted it would supply the weapons to Assad, over Israeli objections, after Western military strikes on Syria. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the strikes had removed any moral obligation Russia had to withhold the missiles and Russia's Kommersant daily cited unnamed military sources as saying deliveries might begin imminently.
But Kozhin's comments, made so soon after Netanyahu's Moscow talks with Putin, suggest the Israeli leader's hard lobbying efforts have, for the time being, paid off.
"For now, we're not talking about any deliveries of new modern [air defense] systems," Izvestia cited Kozhin as saying when asked about the possibility of supplying Syria with S-300s. The Syrian military already had "everything it needed," Kozhin added.
On Thursday, Israel said it had attacked nearly all of Iran's military infrastructure in Syria after Iranian forces fired rockets at Israeli-held territory. S-300s could have significantly complicated the Israeli strikes.
The Israel Air Force said it destroyed five anti-aircraft batteries, all Russian-made models, in the attack.
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