Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Russia had not yet decided whether it would deliver advanced S-300 missile systems to Syria, but would not make a secret of the matter if it took such a decision, the TASS news agency reported.
An Israeli attack on the system could have “catastrophic results for all sides,” the Russian-language Kommersant newspaper said Monday, quoting security sources in Moscow.
The system will be initially manned by Russian security personnel, and it is expected that Israel will try to destroy it before it becomes operational – and that would put Russian personnel in harm’s way, a situation Moscow will not tolerate, the report said.
Lavrov said on Friday that Western military strikes on Syria this month had removed any moral obligation Russia had to withhold the missile systems from its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We’ll have to wait to see what specific decisions the Russian leadership and representatives of Syria will take,” TASS cited Lavrov as saying on Monday during a visit to Beijing.
“There is probably no secret about this and it can all be announced (if a decision is taken),” added Lavrov.
A Russian diplomat who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said Israel has asked Moscow not to supply the Syrian military with the S-300s. An Israeli government spokesman declined comment.