Thursday, July 29, 2010

Russia denies selling S-300 missiles to Azerbaijan

There is no truth to reports that Russia has agreed to deliver S-300 air defense systems to Azerbaijan, Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said on Thursday.

"There is no contract between Russia and Azerbaijan on the delivery of S-300 air defense systems to this country," a Rosoboronexport spokesman said.

Russian business daily Vedomosti said earlier on Thursday that Rosoboronexport signed an agreement with the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry on the delivery of two S-300PMU-2 Favorit (SA-20b Gargoyle b) battalions last year, citing a top manager at a company producing S-300 components.

Rosoboronexport official Vyacheslav Davydenko denied the report, while a spokesman for Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said he had no information on any sale.

Vedomosti said the contract was worth $300 million, which would have made it the biggest single purchase of weapons by an ex-Soviet state. Russia has previously sold S-300 missiles to Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Outside the post-Soviet space, Russia has delivered S-300 air defense systems to Algeria and China. In December 2005, Russia signed a contract on the delivery of at least five S-300 systems to Iran, but delivery has so far been delayed. In June, Russia said it would freeze the delivery due to a fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

The advanced version of the S-300 missile system, called S-300PMU1, has a range of over 150 kilometers (over 100 miles) and can intercept ballistic missiles and aircraft at low and high altitudes, making it effective in warding off air strikes.

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