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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Syria: January 11, 2016

Publication: Putin in Syria
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian Vice Premier Rogozin Says Delivery of S-300s 'Underway,' But Rostech Estimates Delivery In 'Late 2016'

Russia has received an advance from Iran in payment for the S-300 anti-aircraft system, Kommersant reported.
Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin, who is responsible for defense and space programs, said Iran had withdrawn its lawsuit against Russia in International Arbitration Court over the failure to deliver the S-300s in 2010. Then-president Dmitry Medvedev complied with UN Security Council sanctions on Iran and suspended the delivery due to Iran's nuclear program. After a new deal was reached with Iran last year, Russia believed it had no reason to keep the sanctions in place.

Rogozin has made a series of upbeat statements in recent weeks implying the S-300s were a done deal although not all the pieces seemed to have been in place.

On December 18, Interfax reported that Rogozin had said the delivery would take place "in the near future."

"This contract is being completed and is being paid for. The delivery is underway and there will be other contracts after this one."

Now he is quoted as saying:

"The deliveries of the S-300 system is determined by a contract. It was signed last year. The deliveries will begin as soon as the funds are received. They have already been deposited on the accounts of the relevant Russian organizations, and the contract is now in the stage of realization."

That means that since he is now saying the delivery would take "as soon as the funds are received," when he said the deliver was "underway" nearly two weeks ago, he was getting ahead of events. 

While his latest statement sounds as if the deal has advanced, it's important to note that the systems aren't actually delivered yet and still have to be built.

As Kommersant reported on December 21, Sergei Chemezov, general director of the state armaments corporation Rostekh, said that Russia would begin the S-300 deliveries only at the end of this year:

"The Iranians asked to deliver the S-300s to them. I calculate that the deliveries will begin at the end of 2016. We already received the advance. I think there further cooperation including in the civilian sphere will be expanded."

Kommersant said that Russia will send four S-330 PMU-2 divisions to Iran that had been originally intended to go to Syria, but which were not transferred to Syria at Israel's behest. That suggests that some deliveries could be made without waiting for the systems to be manufactured.

Radar towers which may belong to either an S-300 or S-400 system have already been documented at the Russian base in Latakia, Syria:

There is one other factor in Iranian-Russian relations which, while not directly tied to the S-300s, is relevant: a major loan that Russia is supposed to grant Iran. The amount was reported December 22 as $5 billion by the Kremlin propaganda outlet Sputnik International and it was "likely" that the first installment "can be agreed upon in the first quarter of next year," i.e. 2016, however it has not been finalized.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
At Least 8 Children Amongst Dead After Russian Jets Conduct Multiple Strikes West Of Aleppo

At least eight children are reported to have been killed after Russian jets carried out several air strikes on the village of Anjara, west of Aleppo. A primary school was hit.

The Syrian Local Coordination Committees (LCC) report that 17 people were killed in Anjara, with another three dead in Sheikh Ali, around 15 kilometres to the south.

To the east of Anjara, the LCC reports "more than 30 air strikes" around Khan al-Asal and Kafr Naha, as well as two on the town of Maarat al-Artiq. 

160111-aleppo-map.png

The LCC posted photographs of the aftermath

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This video from the Shaam News Network shows the school building after the attack. According to the description, three schools were hit today:

This video claims a higher figure of 35 dead overall in Anjara:

-- Pierre Vaux
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia, Iran, And Nuclear Proliferation – Interpreter Podcast

In our newest podcast, Boston College Professor Matt Sienkiewicz is joined by The Interpreter’s managing editor James Miller and journalist David Patrikarakos to discuss the Iran nuclear deal, Russian neo-Eurasianism, North Korea, and the Russia’s role in the Middle East.

Listen below or click here to open the podcast in a new tab.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Hezbollah, A Terrorist Group, Says They Are Receiving Weapons Directly From Russia

Two commanders for the Iran-backed Shia terrorist group Hezbollah have told The Daily Beast that they are receiving weapons directly from the Russian military, "with no strings attached."

The Daily Beast met the commanders on separate occasions at the end of December and the beginning of this year in Dahiya, a majority Shia working-class southern suburb of Beirut. They declined to use their real names because they are not authorized to speak to the media, but both say Hezbollah is directly receiving long-range tactical missiles, laser guided rockets, and anti-tank weapons from Russia.

“We are strategic allies in the Middle East right now—the Russians are our allies and give us weapons,” said one of the Hezbollah officers who chose to call himself Commander Bakr. He is in charge of five units in Syria, around 200 troops. (He chuckled when he said his nom de guerre, mocking Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed “caliph” of the so-called Islamic State.)

As someone who has lead units fighting from Latakia to Idlib province, around Damascus, and in the Qalamon Mountains that border Lebanon, Commander Bakr says that the Russian air strikes have changed the course of the ground war, where Hezbollah, supported by Iran, has taken the lead.



Russia Is Arming Hezbollah, Say Two of the Group's Field Commanders

BEIRUT - Lebanese Hezbollah field commanders with troops fighting in Syria tell The Daily Beast they are receiving heavy weapons directly from Russia with no strings attached. The commanders say there is a relationship of complete coordination between the Assad regime in Damascus, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia.

View full page →
Jan 11, 2016 20:23 (GMT)

Not only have Russian airstrikes devastated civilians and international air workers, they have also hit rebels that have been trained and armed by The United States. Those rebel groups have also had to fight Syrian ground forces, Hezbollah commandos, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps special forces, and Shiite militias from Iraq. If this news is confirmed, it's proof that Russia is coordinating and directly supplying this coalition, and not just the Assad regime.

Furthermore, in the last several months Israel has conducted airstrikes against Hezbollah commanders, as well as rocket and weapons depots which they say are an imminent threat to the lives of Israeli citizens.

-- James Miller

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