The Saudis’ S-300 Connection

At the risk of venturing pretty far down Speculation Boulevard, here’s a quick follow-up to yesterday’s post on the sale of Russian S-300 air defense systems to Iran. I mentioned that the timing of Russia trotting out its long-time political line could be meant to drive up the price of any bargain struck over UNSC sanctions.

Today, a spokesman for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev refused to rule out Iran sanctions — again, nothing more than the standard Russian line. But at the same time, a Russian defense industry official stated that Russia and Saudi Arabia are finalizing an array of weapons contracts, to the tune of $4-6 billion. The negotiations are now “largely centered on price,” and among the items included are unspecified anti-aircraft systems. I mention it because, as Nikolas Gvosdev noted in his WPR column on diplomatic “bribery” last week, the Saudi purchases have been rumored to be compensation for the lost sales to Iran.

As for the S-300s contracted to Iran, Russia is apparently still resolving the “technical problems” that have delayed delivery to date.