MOSCOW, June 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is not planning to deliver S-300 air defense systems to Syria, despite the announcement by the US administration on Thursday of its intention to supply the Syrian opposition with weaponry, a presidential aide said on Friday.
“The issue has not been raised yet,” aide Yury Ushakov told reporters in Moscow in comments on the US move.
“We are not competing [with Washington] on Syria, on the contrary, we are seeking a constructive solution to this issue which is vital for the situation in the region and the world,” Ushakov said.
Russian officials have previously said they will deliver on existing arms deals with Syria involving “defensive weapons,” but President Putin said recently that the S-300 sale had not been completed.
The delivery of S-300 is of significance, defense analysts say, as it is a highly capable system which would make any outside intervention by foreign air forces extremely hazardous.
The White House said on Thursday it now believes with “high confidence” Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons many times during the two-year conflict there, and vowed to boost US aid to the armed opposition fighting to remove President Bashar Assad from power.
Western media reported on Friday that US President Barack Obama has authorized sending weapons to Syrian rebels for the first time, without disclosing the types of weaponry or delivery dates.
The S-300-P surface-to-air missile system
Ushakov said the evidence presented by Washington was “unconvincing” and warned that providing military assistance to Syrian rebels could hamper efforts to convene a peace conference on Syria that Russia and the United States proposed jointly on May 7.
He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama will most likely discuss further cooperation on Syria during the G8 summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland on June 17-18.
According to recent UN data, the number of documented deaths resulting from the conflict in Syria between March 2011 and the end of April 2013 has reached almost 93,000.