Iraq Resumes Talks on Purchase of Russian S-300 Air Defenses
Sounds like they would come in handy right about now
The head of the Security and Defense Committee in the Iraqi parliament, Mohammad Reza, told the Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency in an exclusive interview on Thursday that Iraqi authorities have moved to revive negotiations with their Russian counterparts over the S-300 contract, Presstv Reported.
“I do not know frankly the stage where the negotiations have reached, because I am not involved in them. All I know is that there is approval from the high Iraqi leadership for such negotiations,” Reza pointed out.
Earlier, Igor Kurushchenko, a member of the General Council of the Russian Ministry of Defense, announced that Iraq could improve its air defense capabilities with the help of the Russian S-400 missile system.
Kurushchenko underlined that the recent US assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), in an airstrike ordered by US President Donald Trump, clearly indicated that Baghdad needs to improve its air defense system.
“Iraq is a partner to Russia in the field of technical military cooperation. Russia can send the necessary means to ensure the country’s sovereignty and reliable protection of its airspace, including the supply of S-400 missiles and other parts of the air defense system,” he pointed out.
Back on February 27, 2018, a senior Iraqi official said his country needs to purchase the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems and diversify its arms imports as the so-called “Western military strategy” has been a failure in the Arab country.
The director of the Iraqi Security and Strategy Center, Muataz Mahi Abdel Hamid, told Russia’s Sputnik news agency in an exclusive interview at the time that Baghdad is need of buying more Russian-made weapons, which were widely in use before the 2003 US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.
“The Iraqi leaders realize the need to turn to the Eastern military strategy [and its Eastern partners]. The Western military strategy, which we started implementing after 2003 has proved inefficient and unable to ensure adequate control over military operations,” he said.
Abdel Hamid further noted that “a number of regional countries” do not like Iraq to be militarily strong.
“Some countries in the [Persian] Gulf prefer Iraq to stay under US control. The Americans do not want Iraq to buy S-400s, and insist that the Iraqi military should be armed in accordance with the existing agreement between Baghdad and Washington,” he said.
The United States has already warned Iraq, among a number of other countries, of the consequences of extending military cooperation with Russia, and striking deals to purchase advanced weaponry, particularly S-400 missile systems.
Former US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on February 22, 2018 that Washington has contacted many countries, including Iraq, to explain the significance of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), and possible consequences that would arise in the wake of defense agreements with Moscow.
On August 2, 2017, US President Donald Trump signed into law the CAATSA that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
Source: Iran Daily
Following reports from late 2017 that Iraq had sought to purchase Russian long ranged air defence systems, namely the S-400 Triumf system, Baghdad has repeatedly moved to restart negotiations to acquire such systems for its protection. According to Mohammad Ridha, chairman of Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, the negotiations will focus on acquisition of the S-300 system.
The chairman noted that American opposition to the deal was expected, with the U.S. having previously threatened Iraq with economic sanctions should it purchase the S-400.
Renewed Iraqi interest comes amid multiple unauthorised strikes on its territory by the United States, and to a lesser extent by Israel and Iran, all of which have violated international law.
Iraq’s air defence capabilities are currently negligible to non existent, with its F-16 and F-50 fighter jets lacking long ranged air to air missiles. The country’s need for an improved air defence capability thus appears to be very urgent.
It is unclear why Iraq has shifted towards interest in the S-300 system from prior interest in the S-400. While the former system is less costly in all but one of its variants, the oil rich country has a very high defence budget and can very likely comfortably afford such an acquisition.
It is possible, however, that the response from the United States in the form of economic sanctions will be less severe should Iraq purchase an older and less costly system.
The S-300PMU-2 is the most popular variant marketed for export, and is a direct predecessor to the S-400 which was initially named ‘S-300PMU-3.’ The platform is fielded by neighbouring Iran and Syria, but dates back to the late 1990s in its service.
Its capabilities are considerably inferior to those of the S-400 – able to engage far less targets simultaneously, fielding weaker sensors and electronic warfare countermeasures, and lacking the mobility or engagement range of the newer platform among other shortcomings. The S-300PMU-2 also lacks the S-400’s ability to function as a multi layered air defence network in its own right with a diverse range of munitions, meaning it is more reliant on support from complementary short and medium ranged platforms such as the BuK-M3 a S-350.
A more capable but less common S-300 variant, the S-300V4, is specialised in neutralising enemy missiles and is newer and in some ways more sophisticated with access to the same long ranged missiles and greater mobility.
It remains uncertain which air defence systems will be selected, for what purpose they are intended, or how harsh the U.S. response will be.
Source: Military Watch