Recent reports allege that Russia rejected an Iranian request to purchase S-400 missile defense systems, citing fears that such a move would escalate ongoing tensions in the Middle East. The S-400 is an advanced air and missile defense system intended to engage targets at ranges of up to 400 kilometers (249 miles) away.
The deal was rebuffed by President Vladimir Putin, according to anonymous sources who spoke to Bloomberg.
Turkey, NATO member and U.S. ally, has already risked tensions with the Trump administration for agreeing to buy the same missile system in the past.
Russia’s reaction is a sign that it fears a conflagration brewing between team Iran and team USA. This also comes shortly after President Trump announced announced that he will be deploying 1500 troops to the Middle East after the U.S. blamed Iran for attacks on Saudi oil installations as well as four ships.
Iran denied any involvement in the attacks.
Russia and Iran enjoy close political and military ties, but there are signs that Moscow is seeking to gradually suppress Iran’s influence in the Middle East as it seeks to safeguard its relations with other regional powers.
The duo both assisted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to regain control of much of his country following eight years of civil war that claimed over half a million lives and displaced millions more.
“If Russia decides to provide Iran with S-400s, it will be direct challenge to Saudi Arabia and Israel, so it will be against Russia’s own national interests.” Ruslan Pukhov, head of the Moscow based Center of Analysis of Strategies and Technologies said. Russia also has diplomatic and military ties with Israel and Saudi who are Iran’s biggest adversaries in the region.
Russia has defended the controversial Obama era 2015 nuclear deal with Iran - the Trump administration abandoned it last year and slapped new sanctions on the Iranian economy. These sanctions have notably hurt Iranian proxy Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon and constantly at loggerheads with Israel.
Russia’s recent refusal to arm Iran during a regional proxy-war reflects the fact that President Trump’s ability to exert pressure over multiple actors in what is a messy meshwork of the complex Middle Eastern political arena is definitely working. This reflects the President’s incredible acumen where foreign policy is concerned.