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MOSCOW, August 30 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has signed no new arms supply contracts with Damascus since the start of the civil war in Syria, the deputy CEO of Russia’s state arms export corporation Rosoboronexport said Friday.
“Russia is now fulfilling contracts signed prior to 2011. These [contracts] are 100 percent defensive in character,” Viktor Komardin said, adding that Russia is only shipping air defense and naval defense systems to Syria under previously signed deals.
The systems being supplied include Tor and Buk air defense missile systems, and also the Bastion coastal missile systems, he said.
Syrian President Bashar Assad claimed in an interview with Izvestia published Monday that all the contracts Syria has previously signed with Russia are 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.
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.
The unrest in Syria began in March 2011 and later escalated into a civil war. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far, according to United Nations estimates.
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Iran has been a central Russian ally in the Middle East, despite considerable tensions between the two. But by renewing dialogue with the West, the new Iranian leadership has chosen another direction. The shifting terrain in the region creates new strategic, political and economic challenges for Russia.