Russia and Saudi Arabia Negotiate S-400 delivery

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Russia and Saudi Arabia are discussing the date of delivery of the Russian air defense systems S-400 to Riyadh, the Saudi ambassador said on Tuesday.

“The negotiations are ongoing, they are not over,” Raed bin Khales Qrimli told reporters after being asked when deliveries will begin.

The sale of defense systems to Riyadh is part of an agreement signed last year between the Saudis and the Kremlin after King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s first visit to Moscow.

The S-400 Triumph are Russia’s new generation of air defense systems. The system can carry three different types of missiles capable of destroying a variety of near and distant aerial targets ranging from reconnaissance aircraft to ballistic missiles.

Meanwhile, according to the Almaz-Antey consortium, the Armed Forces of Russia received another regiment of S-400 air defense systems.

The Almaz-Antey press office reported that this was last year’s supply of Russian S-400 systems to the Ministry of Defense. With this, the consortium fulfilled the state order ahead of schedule.

The S-400 delivery ceremony took place at the Kapustin Yar Polygon in the Astrakhan region. During the ceremony, the S-400s successfully passed tests with real air targets.

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For the military specialist at the Center for Strategic Research, Oleg Ponomarenko, the S-400 system is unique by a number of factors. Among them is the fact that the system is capable of protecting a vast area, as well as being a universal system, which differentiates it from any other far-reaching system.

In addition, the system has specific features such as high-quality electronic work tools, as well as its ability to track up to 300 targets simultaneously, as well as shooting at 80 targets simultaneously, said Oleg Ponomarenko.

The S-400 has a range of up to 400km, and is capable of reaching targets at an altitude of up to 30km. An S-400 missile launcher regiment consists of 16 multiple launchers with four missiles each.

The parameters are of fundamental importance for the armaments of countries, including Russia, and this makes the S-400 system “… a unique system, since it is capable of effectively covering a huge sector […]”, concluded Oleg Ponomarenko.

Why the Saudi’s would seek to acquire the system is a matter of particular interest. Among the countries in the region likely to engage with Saudi Arabia, for all its rhetoric it is not Iran, but most probably the United States and Israel, as the two countries have increasingly grown distrustful of de facto Saudi ruler MBS, and both countries also have a proven record of suddenly abandoning long held allies.

Russia’s general commitment in the region appears to be to create for itself a role of managing stability. At any rate, Iran has shown little interest in a war with KSA and there are no other countries in the region which openly seek hostilities with the increasingly stigmatized Gulf Monarchy.

At issue, and the need for negotiations can only be speculated upon. In brief, it would appear that the Kremlin is actively withholding delivery of the system until it acquires greater security guarantees from the KSA. The Kremlin has long understood that the Gulf Monarchy has been a long time supporter of the very same terrorist organizations which the Russian Federation fights  both in Syria with its allies, and in recent years in the Caucuses. 

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