Russian President Vladimir Putin said he has not shipped any “game-changing” S-300 aircraft missiles to Syria, two weeks after Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that it will deliver the weapons to Syrian President Bashar Assad to prevent military intervention inside the embattled-country.
Speaking at a join news conference with European Union leaders, Putin stated, “As for the S-300, it is really one of the best defense systems in the world, if not the best…We do not want to disturb the balance in the region. The contract was signed several years ago. It has not been fulfilled yet.”
The original Russian announcement to go ahead with deliveries of the S-300 missiles was an angry Russian response to the European Union removal of sanctions against transferring arms to Syrian rebels.
The S-300 missile system is one of the most sophisticated in the world and can shoot down planes 125 miles away, well within the range of Israeli commercial airplanes.
Putin has used the S-300 system as his ace card, if not a bad joker, to affect, if not control, in events in Syria in the political game that is being played out at the expense of millions of Syrians whose lives have been devastated in the two-year-old protest that has turned into a full-fledged civil war.
The S-300 also has been the source of lies. Assad claimed last week that the missiles already are in Syria, although his truth meter already is around zero.
A week after several Israeli military leaders said there was no chance that the missiles are even close to being in Syria because of the complex training needed to operate them, Putin finally contradicted the claims of Assad, whose regime has been saved by Russia’s blocking Western-backed sanctions and United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Putin also has not been the most reliable source for the truth.
Human Rights Watch has described the rights climate in Russia as the worst in post-Soviet history. However, after carrying out raids on human rights organizations, Putin said they sere simply “routine events.”
He has targeted journalists and watchdog NGOs.
After Russian blogger Alexei Navalny posted documents suggesting that Russia’s state-owned oil pipeline company embezzled $4 billion called Putin’s United Russia Party “the party of crooks and liars,” the government charged him with embezzlement.
Acting with the paranoid of Middle East dictators, he threw out USAID from Russia last year, accusing it of trying to “affect the course of political processes.”