Moscow Ready to Consider Delivering S-300 Missile Systems to Syria: Shoigu

MOSCOW- Syria has not turned to Russia so far with a request to deliver S-300 air defense missile systems, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in an interview with the Italian daily Il Giornale on Wednesday.

"A decision on the delivery of this type of armament to the army of any foreign state is made on the basis of the corresponding request, which has not been filed so far," Shoigu said, replying to a question about the possible deliveries of S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile systems to Damascus.

According to Itar Tass, the Russian defense minister stressed that the S-300 is a defensive weapon system and cannot pose a direct threat to the national security of any country.

"This air defense missile system can pose a threat only to air attack weapons," Shoigu said.

"Today, after the aggression by the United States, Great Britain and France against Syria that has demonstrated the need for the Syrians to possess modern air defense capabilities, we are ready to consider this issue again," Shoigu said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated on April 16, just two days after the missile attack by three Western countries against Syria that Moscow was ready to consider all necessary steps for strengthening the defense capabilities of that Arab country, including the deliveries of S-300 systems. In May, Russian presidential aide for military and technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin said that there were no talks so far on the deliveries of these systems.

US Has No Clear Strategy for Syria

 Shoigu went on to say that the United States has no clear strategy for Syria.

"Since US lawmakers and experts have been calling on the government to clarify its strategy for Syria, our country is not the only one who does not get it," Shoigu said. He added that "if there is some basis for our American counterparts’ actions in Syria, it is too contradictory to be called a strategy."

The Russian defense minister pointed out that Washington had been changing its view of the US military presence in Syria. "I would like to recall that initially, it was about defeating the ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State terror group outlawed in Russia - TASS], then about preventing the re-emergence of the ISIL and now statements are being made about the need to preserve military presence in Syria in order to deter Iran’s alleged influence," Shoigu said.

According to him, "one can’t help thinking that the United States’ chief objective in Syria is to prevent the situation from stabilizing, prolong the conflict and undermine the country’s territorial integrity by creating enclaves not controlled by the government in Syria’s remote regions." Shoigu added that militants who had received training in the US-controlled areas of Syria were fighting against the Syrian army, getting enough arms and ammunition.

The Russian defense minister also emphasized that in the past years, the US had not spent a cent to help civilians in Syria, particularly in the city of Raqqa..

"On the other hand, not a single incident has been recorded during the Syrian troops’ operations to liberate various regions and localities. Demining activities took place there, people received food and construction materials they needed to resume a peaceful life as soon as possible," the Russian defense minister said.

Russia will always counter US 'neocolonialist strategy'

Elsewhere in the interview, Shoigu stressed that Russia will always counter the US neocolonialist strategy aimed at weakening legitimate governments in other countries.

"The issue at hand is the neocolonialist strategy, which the US has already tested in Iraq and Libya and which boils down to supporting any, even the wildest ideologies to weaken legitimate governments," the minister said.

According to Shoigu, Russia, "which advocates equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with any countries as part of the multipolar world concept, will always be an obstacle to the implementation of such strategies."

The minister explained that the key stages of the neocolonialist strategy are weakening the legitimate leadership, staging the use of weapons of mass destruction or humanitarian disasters and the use of military force to create "controlled chaos." All that, he said, creates favorable conditions for draining countries of their wealth to the US economy by transnational corporations.

Threat to US dominance

Washington considers Russia as a threat to its global dominance, according to Shoigu.

"Russia has been regaining its strength so it is now considered to be not an ally but a threat to the United States’ global dominance," he said. At the same time, in Shoigu’s words, the West "continues its military build-up near our borders" while accusing Moscow of making aggressive plans.

In this regard, the Russian defense minister pointed out that NATO had increased the number of troops deployed to the Baltic states, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria from 2,000 to 15,000, with the possibility of a further increase to 60,000. Shoigu also mentioned a statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made on Tuesday that by 2020, the alliance planned to have "30 mechanized battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 combat vessels ready to use within 30 days or less." "All this is happening right near Russia’s western borders," Shoigu stressed.