Our translation of an article from Kommersant follows. Commentary to be posted separately.
Damascus can get Russian SAMs very soon
Kommersant has learned that Russia can in the near future begin delivery of S-300 "Favorit" anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM) to Syria. Back in 2010, Damascus contracted to purchase these SAMs, but in the implementation stage the contract was cancelled at the request of Israel, which feared for its airspace. This time, according to Kommersant's information, the Favorit will be carried out on a no-cost basis, so that in a short time on their basis a Syrian air defence system capable of covering Damascus and the protection of aircraft from shelling can be created. Experts believe that the reaction of the Israeli military to such a move will be predictably negative, and some do not rule out the possibility of their attacking the locations of the S-300 deployment.
Statements about the readiness to supply Damascus with S-300 complexes were made for the first time a few hours after the United States, Great Britain and France performed a massive missile and bomb attack on Syria. The first of these statements was made by the chief of the operational headquarters of the RF Armed Forces General Staff Sergei Rudskaya: "Taking into account what has happened, we consider it possible to return to consideration of this issue - and not only for Syria, but also for other states."
On April 16, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the BBC: "we are prepared to consider all the necessary steps to help the Syrian army contain aggression." And on April 20 he directly told RIA Novosti that after the last shelling of Syria, "we now have no moral obligations." On the same day, Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: at the meeting, according to an official report, "some aspects of the situation in Syria" were discussed. No other details were reported.
Two military and diplomatic sources of Kommersant maintain that the issue of transferring the SAMs to the Syrian army, which was "mostly on the political plane," was practically solved.
It is assumed that components of the S-300 (radar stations, transport and loading machines, control posts, launchers, etc.) will soon be delivered to the republic either by air transport aircraft or by the Russian Navy.
The department of information and mass communications of the Ministry of Defence could not answer Kommersant’s questions on the subject of the S-300 in Syria over the weekend.
The S-300 could have appeared in Syria much earlier. In 2010, the Ministry of Defence of the Syrian Arab Republic and the special exporter of Russian arms Rosoboronexport signed a contract for the supply of four battalions of SAMs in the version of the S-300PMU-2. The contract was first hampered by the civil war that began in Syria 2011 - only the radar stations were transferred to the customer, but not the rest of the equipment (including launchers and missiles).
In addition to internal circumstances, there were external ones: the Syrian S-300 supply was constantly criticized by Israel, who believed that, having received such a powerful weapon, the Syrian military could control its airspace. Eventually, at the request of Tel Aviv, the contract was cancelled. "The Israelis expressed concern about the delivery of the same S-300 systems to another country in the region, since the S-300 can hit Israeli territory from its territory," President Vladimir Putin said during a direct line on April 16, 2015, clarifying that Russia returned to the customer about $400 million in advance. Subsequently, these S-300PMU-2s were adapted to the requirements of another customer - Iran, who bought them for $1 billion (see Kommersant, November 10, 2015).
This time, the S-300 is to be transferred to Syria as part of military-technical assistance. At least, as the interlocutor of Kommersant says in the military-technical cooperation sphere, there is no money for the purchase of new systems of this type as "Syrians do not have money," and no credit is included in Russia's plans (although, according to RIA Novosti, Syria has still purchased on a commercial basis more than 40 units of anti-aircraft missile-gun systems "Pantsir-C1").
One way or another, the most probable is the supply to the republic of systems already used by the armed forces of the Russian Federation.
Together with the Soviet systems S-125 [Pechora, see Rosboronexport sales pamphlet in References below], S-200, Buk, Kvadrat and Osa, they will form the basis of the echeloned Syrian air defence, which will be able to shield not only Damascus, but also a number of military bases from possible attacks by Israel and the US coalition, where Syrian aviation is stationed and Iranian military instructors are located. According to Colonel Viktor Murakhovsky, for such tasks in Syria it makes sense to transfer at least three or four divisions of the air defence system of this type. Recall that Russian anti-aircraft missile systems S-400 protect airspace in Khmeimim and Masyafa, and the S-300V4 cover the logistics centre of the Russian Navy in Tartus. According to Sergei Rudskoy [chief of Main Operations Directorate], during the bombardment on the night of April 14, none of the missiles in the zone of operation of Russia’s own air defence weapons was used.
The reaction of Israeli officials to Russia's plans to deploy the S-300 in Syria has not yet been received. But former high-ranking officials, including ex-head of the intelligence department of the Israeli Defence Forces Amos Yadlin, believe that the Israeli military will inflict a blow on the SAMs. In Tel Aviv, they will react to deliveries of the S-300 to Syria very nervously, but now in Syria "everyone fishes in muddy watera," says the director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov: "After the April strike, Russia had to somehow answer The United States and its allies, and, apparently, the option was selected with the demonstrative support of Bashar Assad."
Moscow believes that the deployment of the S-300 in Syria will stabilize the situation and will not allow the Israelis and the US-led coalition to destroy civil and military infrastructure unhampered.
At least the head of the Council of the Federation Council on Defence Viktor Bondarev believes that "the presence of highly effective defensive weapons in the arsenal of any sovereign country will sober the hotheads not only among the NATO military and generals." At the same time, it will take a long time to train the Syrian officers to manage the S-300: the former deputy head of the Russian Air Force for the CIS Joint Air Defence System Aitech Bizhev believes that this will take about three months. At the same time, according to Kommersant's information, in the places where they are deployed, Russian military advisers will be stationed first to coordinate the actions of the Syrian experts. And if Israel decides to launch rocket strikes on the locations of the S-300 deployment, the consequences, according to Kommersant sources, "will be catastrophic for all sides."
Source of original Russian-language post: https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/3612197
Rosboronexport pamphlet relating to the S-125 (Pechora) system: