ASTRAKHAN (South Russia), September 12 (RIA Novosti)
Syria has shown interest in buying a whole range of advanced Russian air defense systems, a source in the Russian defense industry told RIA Novosti on Monday.
A group of Syrian observers is attending live firing drills during Combat Commonwealth air defense exercises carried out by CIS countries at the Ashuluk firing range in the Astrakhan Region near the Caspian Sea.
"Syria and some other countries are interested in long-range S-300 Favorit systems, medium-range Buk and short-range Tor," the source said. "Syrian experts want to make sure that these systems are indeed modern, powerful and effective weapons."
Syria, a major importer of Russian weapons, has bought MiG-29M fighter jets, Pantsir S1E and Buk-M2E air-defense systems from Russia, and hopes to receive MiG-29SMT fighters, Yak-130 combat trainers, Iskander tactical missile systems, and two Amur-1650 class diesel submarines.
Russia earlier announced it would honor a 2007 contract on the delivery of several Bastion anti-ship missile systems armed with Yakhont (SS-N-26) supersonic cruise missiles to Syria, despite efforts by Israel and the United States to stop the deal.
"We hope that the current political crisis in Syria will not affect the sales of Russian weaponry to that country," the source said. "The Syrian side has so far confirmed that it is ready to honor all existing contracts with Russia."
Russian experts believe that the expansion of arms exports to Syria could largely compensate for the loss of lucrative arms deals with Iran and Libya after a UN ban on arms sales to Tehran and the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime.