The Russian newspaper Izvestia reported on Friday the statement of Vladimir Kojin, aide to Russian president Vladimir Putin, that there were no ongoing talks between Russia and the Syrian regime on supplying the latter with the sophisticated S-300 missile defence system, and that Moscow did not see the system as necessary for the regime at the moment.
The statement by Kojin who oversees Russian military aid to other countries, came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Moscow this week. Netanyahu put heavy pressure on Putin not to provide the Syrian regime with the missiles.
Russia offered to supply the Syrian regime with the missile system, despite Israel's objections, about a month ago, after Western military strikes in Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the time that the strikes have exempted Russia from any moral obligation preventing it from delivering the missiles. The daily newspaper Kommersant quoted unnamed military sources which asserted that delivery operations could begin soon.
However, Kojin's statements after Netanyahu's talks with Putin in Moscow indicate that the Israeli prime minister's pressure has borne fruit, at least for now.
Israel has made repeated efforts to persuade Moscow not to sell the S-300 missiles to the Syrian regime, since it fears that it will limit its air capability in targeting Syrian bases, shipments and arms depots.
The S-300 missile system was developed by the Soviet Army. However, it has been updated and is now available in several versions with different capabilities. The system launches missiles from trucks, and it is designed to shoot down military aircraft as well as short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
Although the more advanced S-400 system has replaced it, the S-300 is still very powerful and outperforms the current Syrian missile system.