In the foreseeable future the Russian-Iranian military cooperation will be even more extensive. With the S-300 supplies Iranian air defense becomes more layered to ensure the safety of vital facilities of the country.
Russia has made the first contracted delivery of the S-300 air defense systems to Iran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hussein Jaber Ansari said. “We announced earlier that this contract, regardless of some obstacles in the past, is on the stage of completion and today I announce that the first batch of this equipment has already been delivered to Iran, and the delivery of the next lot will continue in the future”.
Ivan Konovalov, military expert and Director of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Trends Studies in an interview to spoke about the prospects of intensification of the Russian-Iranian military cooperation and its impact on the situation in the region.www.valdaiclub.com
According to the expert, for Russia Iran was always a very promising market. However, there were two serious breakdowns in bilateral relations.
In 1990s Russia delivered to Iran many different types of weapons, but in 1995 the US-Russian Gore - Chernomyrdin memorandum was signed. Moscow followed US demands, terminating almost all military-technical cooperation with Iran. Russia lost about $ 2 billion, not to mention serious reputational costs. The second case was related to the supply of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system. In 2010, President Medvedev decided not to deliver 5 S-300 batteries, even if the $ 800 million contract was already signed, and it was not included in the UN Security Council sanctions list.
"Now the mistakes are being corrected. Iran ceased to be a bargaining chip in the US-Russian relations. Moreover, Iran is very capacious arms market - presumably at least 15 billion dollars", - the expert said.
During the period of sanctions, Iran kept the armed forces solely on its own account with a little help from China and North Korea. Now Iran needs modern air defense systems, aircraft, tanks and armored vehicles with relative logistic assistance. None of Iranian tanks does not reach the level of the Russian T-90. The Russian assistance is needed for further rearmament of Iran.
According to Ivan Konovalov, in the foreseeable future the Russian-Iranian military cooperation will be even more extensive. The same can be said about Russian-Iranian cooperation in the field of space exploration, nuclear energy, railway construction.
By getting rid of sanctions, Tehran becomes an open market, in which many foreign actors are interested. Russia is not able to cover all segments of the Iranian market, even in terms of the arms supplies of (for example, UAVs, where Iran has its own advantages), but has much to offer.
"The S-300 system has a very high level of efficiency. It's a kind of a Kalashnikov rifle, just another level, very reliable and accurate. 5 batteries mean 40 launchers. This is a very powerful force, "- Ivan Konovalov said.
According to him, one cannot say that Iran currently has the ideal air and missile defense system. "However, even in the period of sanctions it was quite effective with S-200 and Tor systems, but with the S-300 Iranian air defense becomes more layered to ensure the safety of vital facilities of the country. In any case S-300 does not increase Iran's offensive capabilities, but only defense capabilities. In modern warfare if a country is able to defend itself against enemy aircraft and missiles, it solves a lot. It is usually one of the decisive factors of the victory over the enemy "- the expert said.
Speaking about the situation in the region in light of the intensification of the Russian-Iranian military cooperation, Ivan Konovalov noted that in spite of the current Iranian involvement in almost all the conflicts in the Middle East, the position of the country in the region is now much better than during the period of sanctions. "Iran has proved that the pressure of sanctions did not weaken it too much, that impressed on the regional players. Sanctions cancellation added political weight to Iran as a strong regional power. The crisis in Syria, where Iran and Russia are on one side, and this coalition is winning, adds even more points to Iran ", - the expert said.
Iran will build its policy to become a major power in the Middle East and South Asia. In this regard, the confrontation with Saudi Arabia will continue. As to Israel, its attitude was always very negative to the military strengthening of Iran. But in light of the current developments in the region, Israel prefers a position of an outside observer, keeping some kind of armed neutrality. Now, according to Ivan Konovalov, for Israel its own integrity and security is more important.
Returning to the Russian-Iranian military cooperation, the expert noted that in the future he does not exclude the possibility of the establishment of the Russian military base in Iran. "From a strategic point of view it would be very helpful. The route across the Caspian Sea to a base in southern Iran would be very tempting, especially in light of the difficult relations between Russia and Turkey, which controls the Bosporus and Dardanelles ", - Ivan Konovalov noticed. The expert did not rule out that it can cause serious debates in the international community. "But we can answer back to the critics. The Americans have 700 bases around the world ", - he said.
However, according to Ivan Konovalov, we should not forget that Iran is primarily a Russian partner, not an ally. "Iran has its own vision of the situation and strategic perspectives. Russia's cooperation with Iran in some way can be compared to the Russian-Chinese cooperation. China is also Russia's partner, but everyone understands that it will never be a real ally. There are just coincident interests ", - the expert stressed.