Sergey Balmasov: Moscow has the opportunity to deliver a painful blow through Riyadh


For a long enough time, the Russian media spreads information about a possible deal with Iran on the sale of S-400 Triumf missile systems to Tehran. However, the Iranian Defense Ministry said last month that they have no plans for the purchase of this equipment. And now there is information that the S-400 interests the tiny kingdom of Bahrain, which, by the way, is going through its hard times and has serious problems with Iran. Apparently Moscow is ready to sell the complex to Bahrain. With a request to comment on this issue, we turned to Sergey Balmasov, the expert of the Middle East Institute and RIAC.

Do you think such a step from Moscow will anger Tehran? And why is Bahrain, which has the Saudi and American troops on its territory, buying the S-400?

1)In statements like this there are a lot more politics than real intentions. Of course, the probability of getting the very latest Russian complex will cause even greater outrage in Iran caused by Russia’s actions, which, from Tehran’s point of view, is not helping it in Syria, so much as it is a competitor, in addition hindering realization of “common Shia” idea and support of the “Hezbollah”.

However, before the beginning of the 2020s Russian will not be physically able to deliver the S-400 to other countries, no matter who it is – KSA or Iran, as it yet not completed its own rearmament plan. Next on the list is a voluminous Chinese order and other countries which are interested will not receive it earlier than 2026. Thus, now it is not a technical issue, but a political one.

2)Another thing is that the S-400 will not become outdated in 10 years. In fact, when it comes to buying such weapons by Bahrain, it is about Saudi Arabia standing behind it, which is a military and political guarantor of its security against Iranian attack.

3)However, the question of a possible sale of S-400 to the Arabian monarchies has been raised in the past, just during another Iranian-Saudi exacerbations and activation of ties between Washington and Tehran.

But here is also the American aspect. On the one hand, SAM “Patriot” has not demonstrated the abilities that the Saudis were expecting, periodically receiving limited mini-missile strikes from the Yemeni Houthis and Riyadh doesn’t mind replacing them.

But even in this case the question is rather political – KSA shows to the US its readiness to give up their arms in favor of the Russian, if they will not stop to interfere in their internal affairs, require internal reforms and will not abandon forcing ties with Iran.

It should also be pointed out that from the Russian point of view this is also a hint for the US, in the sense that if they will play “dirty” in Syria, then Moscow has the opportunity to deliver a painful blow through Riyadh.

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