Syria to get Russia MiGs after missiles
MOSCOW / DAMASCUS
A file picture shows an ammunition being displayed in front of a MiG-29 fighter jet. Russia can supply 10 ultra-modern fighter jets to Syria, a report says.Syria is readying to receive Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets from Moscow, amid claims that the country has also received sophisticated S-300 air defense systems. Meanwhile, Turkey said it does not approve the delivery of any weapons to the Syrian regime.
Russia could supply 10 ultra-modern MiG-29 fighter jets to Syria under a possible contract being discussed with a visiting delegation from Damascus, Interfax reported May 30. The Russian news agency quoted MiG corporation director general Sergei Korotkov as saying that the details of the contract were now under discussion.
“There is a Syrian delegation in Moscow at the moment. We are determining the details of this contract,” Interfax quoted Korotkov as saying. “I think that they will be delivered to Syria,” he added in apparent reference to the MiG-29 fighters, which are one of the most modern jets used in the Russian air force today. The Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies said the contract involved 10 fighters but gave no other details.
Russia has defended its past arms deliveries to Syria by saying it was only fulfilling contracts signed with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government before the current conflict broke out more than two years ago. The Interfax report was issued moments before President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov told news agencies that he was not aware of new arms contracts being agreed with Syria at this time. Ushakov said that as far as he was aware, “Russia does not intend to conclude any new contracts,” without making a direct reference to the MiG-29 report.
A Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News that Ankara does not approve the delivery of any weapon systems to Syrian regime. According to the official, Ankara is closely following claims that Russia has already shipped part of the highly controversial consignment to the Syrian regime. Recalling the ambiguity on the statements, the official stressed it was Russia that should make clear its actual position on the issue.
There are contradicting reports over the S-300 deliveries. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared to imply on May 30 that Russia could have already shipped part of the highly controversial consignment, without naming the missiles directly.
Russian media reported May 31 that Moscow has not yet delivered any S-300 air defense missile systems to the Syrian regime and may hold back from shipping the weapons this year, or even indefinitely. The Vedomosti daily cited a Russian defense industry source as saying it was unclear if the S-300s would be delivered to Syria at all this year while the Kommersant daily quoted its source as saying that delivery was only planned in the second quarter of 2014.
The Interfax news agency quoted an arms export source as saying that any deliveries of the S-300s, were they to take place at all, would be made “no earlier than autumn.”
‘MILITARY OPTION ON TABLE’
French President François Hollande said he was holding out for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, but warned that any outcome would be “without [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad.” In an interview with FRANCE 24, Hollande said France could not ignore the necessity of “military pressure” on al-Assad. France, he said, wants to see an end to the embargo preventing the country from supplying weapons to the rebels, but warned that France wanted to be sure that any arms sent to Syria “do not fall into the hands of groups who would in time turn them against us or use them to further destabilize the country.”