DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 8, 2008
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When Damascus confirmed peace talks with Israel on May 21, a secret high-powered military purchasing delegation, headed by air force-air defenses commander Gen. Akhmad Ratyb, was already in Moscow. With a $5 billion allocation in hand from Tehran, the delegation was bidding for the most advanced products of Russia's munitions industry.
The six main categories of interest to Damascus are disclosed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources as -
1. The latest model of the Russian Iskander-E, a surface-to-surface tactical missile with a range of 280 km and a 480-kilo warhead. This missile is considered one of the most advanced of its type in the world today, partly because of its cruise attributes which enable it to home in on target undetected and with high precision. Iskander-E can be guided by pilot-less air vehicles or satellites.
2. Fifty of the latest MiG-29SMT fighter-bombers.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 25, 2008
debkafile's military sources reveal that the Russian Amur 1 Class PM 138 naval boat, caught up in the heavy storm raging across the Middle East and Mediterranean last week, flashed a distress signal Tuesday Feb. 19. A Greek Navy frigate responded to the call and escorted the PM 138 to the island of Chios.
debkafile's military sources point out:
1. Russian naval vessels are spending long periods running into months at the Syrian military bases of Latakia and Tartous.
2. Witnesses in Greece say the vessel, described officially as an auxiliary repair craft, boasted an unusual number of antennas for gathering intelligence.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> reports: Moskva missile carrier takes part in big Russian navy maneuver starting in Mediterranean Tuesday<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 18, 2008
Russia has drawn eleven warships from its Black Sea and Atlantic Northwest fleets for a joint war game in the Mediterranean to underline its drive for a naval presence. They rendezvous off Malta Tuesday, Jan. 15. Dmitry Medvedev, President Vladimir Putin's chosen successor, said Friday, Jan. 11: "Russia must restore its sea power. The Soviet Union's naval might commanded respect."
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> Exclusive: Russian experts arrive to install Russian TOR-M1 air defense batteries at Iran's nuclear facilities<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 2, 2008
debkafile's military sources assert that the multi-functional, multiple layer hardware substantially upgrades the shield protecting Iran's banned uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Isfahan, as well as Bushehr, from many types or air and missile attack.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> reports: First Russian fuel shipment delivered at Iran's Bushehr reactor, Putin due in Middle East a week before Bush<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 20, 2007
The Kremlin, in advanced muscle-flexing mode, announced Monday, Dec. 17, the delivery of the first fuel shipment to power the Iranian nuclear reactor Russia is building at Bushehr. The announcement coincided with an international conference in Paris for 60 countries to consider the Palestinians' aid application.
Our Moscow sources report President Vladimir Putin has adopted the strategy of matching - or topping - every US or Western move concerning the Middle East. The Russian president, they reveal, also plans to land in Syria on New Year's Eve, a week before US president George W. Bush begins his Middle East tour.
More about Putin's Middle East upmanship in debkafile Special Report below.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 17, 2007
The foreign ministry in Moscow announced Monday, Dec. 17, the delivery of the first fuel shipment to power the Iranian nuclear reactor Russia is building at Bushehr. The announcement coincided with an international conference in Paris for 60 countries to consider the Palestinians' application for $5.6 bn in aid. debkafile's Moscow sources report this was a deliberate ploy to steal the thunder of an event built up as the sequel of the US-promoted Middle East conference in Annapolis last month.
Our Moscow sources report President Vladimir Putin has adopted the strategy of matching - or topping - every US or Western move concerning the Middle East. He also plans, they reveal, to land in Syria in grand style on New Year's Eve, a week before US president George W. Bush begins his Middle East tour.
Kosovo issue deadlocked between NATO and Russia as deadline expires Monday for mediation with Serbia on province's future<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 12, 2007
Kosovo Albanians are holding off a unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia until early next year - "much earlier than May." debkafile adds: They are wary of pushing the Serbian general elections next year into returning the ultra-nationalist Radical Party now in opposition. Kosovo independence is fully supported by the US and all the European Union members, barring Cyprus. Russia which stands behind Belgrade calls for more negotiations. Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov warned Monday that UDI could set off a chain reaction of secessions across the world including Europe.
Last week, an adviser to Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica warned Belgrade would defend Kosovo with "all available means" in case of a unilateral declaration.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> Reports: Russia launches first naval power build-up in the Mediterranean in response to the US about-face on Iran<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 5, 2007
President Vladimir Putin and defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov decided to send a sortie of six Russian warships, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and the Moskva guided missile cruiser, to the Mediterranean. This will be the first prolonged stay of a Russian carrier to the eastern Mediterranean vicinity of Israel's shores and waters patrolled by the US Sixth Fleet.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> Reports: Overriding IDF and Shin Bet objections, Olmert approves arming Palestinian West Bank forces with 50 Russian APCs, 1000 rifles an
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 26, 2007
debkafile's military sources report that the armored personnel carriers which can carry 10 fighters were promised Mahmoud Abbas by Russian president Vladimir Putin. Whichever of the models supplied - the BTR-60PB, BTR-70 or BTR-80 - these combat vehicles are armed with turret heavy machine gun mounts designed to hit ground and low-flying air targets. debkafile reports the IDF and security service fear their presence will seriously hamper Israel's regular counter-terror activities.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span>: In a dramatic reverse swing, Putin decides to send uranium to fuel Iran's atomic power station in Bushehr
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 17, 2007
The Russian president Vladimir Putin indicated Friday that Moscow would send uranium to Iran's atomic reactor in Bushehr (a reactor unconnected with Iran's suspect military program) after all. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors were invited to the Novosibirsk Plant on Nov. 26 to verify and seal the fuel before shipment. On that day, too, the US-promoted Middle East conference is provisionally set to open in Annapolis, Maryland.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 30, 2007
At the Russian-EU summit in Portugal Friday, Oct. 26, the Russian president Vladimir Putin likened the US proposal to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe to the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960s. "Such a threat is being set up on our borders," he said, but admitted tension was much lower now than then and the US was listening to Moscow's concerns.
On arrival in Portugal, Putin compared the supporters of tough policies against Iran to "mad people wielding razor blades."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 23, 2007
The first hint that a strategic deal was brewing was dropped by Russian President Vladimir Putin. At a news conference in Tehran last week, he alluded to a shift in the controversy with Washington which might settle his dispute with President George W. Bush on the US missile shield in East Europe.
The outline of the American role in the deal surfaced in Prague Tuesday, Oct. 23, when US secretary of defense Robert Gates suggested a possible delay in activating the proposed US missile interceptor project in Poland and radar station in the Czech Republic - until an Iranian threat was "definitely proved."
Bush's words and the plan outlined by Gates represent a major US concession to Russia and a triumph for Putin's dogged opposition to the deployment of US missile defense bases in two former Warsaw Treaty nations. The Bush administration can also congratulate itself on bringing the Russian leader round to admitting that Iranian missiles are a threat to Europe; its corollary - the Islamic Republic's nuclear program is a threat to the world.
Putin and Ahmadinejad lead Caspian Sea Tehran summit in reciprocal non-aggression pledge, but Iran disappointed on Bushehr<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 22, 2007
The Russian president disappointed his Iranian hosts by refusing to set a date for completing the Bushehr nuclear reactor, blaming worn-out equipment from the time of the Shah and "legal issues." Ahmadinejad accepted his invitation for talks in Moscow.
The presidents of Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan agreed that no Caspian Sea country should be used as a launch-pad for a military strike against a fellow littoral nation.
debkafile's sources report this decision has bound member-states hosting US bases to withhold their use for attacking Iran.
On Sept. 22, debkafile reported: "Sitting together at the Caspian Sea Summit next month, Putin and Ahmadinejad will be broadcasting a message to Washington and the nations of Central Asia that the future and security of Caspian natural resources and oil do not depend on their relations with Washington."
Putin warned of plot to assassinate him during Tuesday visit to Tehran - Interfax from unnamed security source<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 14, 2007
The source reported several gangs of suicide bombers had been set up to murder the Russian president during his visit to Iran. He is due to meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and attend a Caspian Sea summit, the first Russian head of state to visit Iran. The Kremlin said Putin's travel plans are unaltered. Iran's foreign ministry dismissed the reports as "completely baseless and part of a psychological war."
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> reports: Russians employed at Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor suddenly depart in a body, according to local Arab sources
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 1, 2007
The Khorramshar News Agency, which is published by the ethnic Arab underground of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan, reported early Oct. 1 that the entire staff of Russian nuclear engineers and experts employed in building the nuclear reactor at Bushehr had abruptly packed their bags Friday, Sept. 28, and flew back to Russia. The agency's one-liner offers no source or explanation. debkafile have obtained no corroboration of its report from any other source.
The story appears to have originated with the ethnic Arabs who live near the reactor or who come in contact with its Russian staff. If true, debkafile can offer three hypothetical scenarios to account for the Russians' precipitate departure:
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 28, 2007
His attendance at the Caspian Asian Summit will occasion brass-tacks talks with Iranian leaders, including the signing of a document to finish and fuel the long-delayed Bushehr nuclear reactor. He will also drum up friends and influence in the Caspian-Central Asian region.
debkafile's Exclusive Report below takes a close look at the Russian president's agenda in Tehran
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 23, 2007
Iran's suspect nuclear program is further polarizing the big powers.
As American and European officials discussed a third round of UN Security Council sanctions, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, more pugnacious than ever, addressed a military parade Sat. Sept. 22 marking the 27th anniversary of the onset of the Iraq-Iran war of the eighties.
The French president Nicolas Sarkozy meanwhile stands shoulder to shoulder with President George W. Bush. Friday, Sept. 21, he said: "Iran is trying to obtain an atomic bomb. That is unacceptable and I tell the French people it is unacceptable."
A week ago, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner warned that the world faced war if diplomacy and sanctions failed to curb Iran's nuclear activities.
But Vladimir Putin pulled in the opposite direction from his two fellows in the UN Security Council when he decided to be the first Russian president to visit Tehran on Oct. 16. The visit, in the framework of the Caspian Asian Summit, is planned to encompass much more than state ceremonial and ritual photo-ops, although there will be plenty of that too.
He will be on hand to underscore Moscow's concern and conviction that the last two or three months of 2007 will take the controversy over the Iranian nuclear program to crisis point and could determine whether or not America resorts to the military option.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 31, 2007
The Russian Air Force is not up to carrying out the Russian president's order to renew long-range nuclear bomber flights
The latest DEBKA-Net-Weekly lays bare the sorry state of Russia's air force and aviation industry.
Don't miss the issue out Friday with this and other revelations.
To subscribe to DEBKA-Net-Weekly click DEBKA-Net-Weekly.com?ref=001">HERE.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span>: Russo-Chinese war game brought Chinese commando and air units onto Russian soil for the first time<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 24, 2007
On Aug. 3, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 312 carried an exclusive report on the Peace Mission 2007 exercise run simultaneously from command centers 3,000 kilometers apart in Russia and China. Friday, Aug. 17, President Vladimir Putin, while watching the exercise with China's Hu Jintao, announced his order for the resumption of regular Russian long-range strategic bomber flights after 15 years.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military experts note that the Russian-Chinese exercise began in fact two weeks before the given date and that an important part of the drill was the transfer of large military forces across vast distances.
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DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 19, 2007
The Russian president made this announcement, evoking shades of the Cold War, Friday, Aug. 17, in the presence of China's Hu Jintao at the end of the first joint Russian-Chinese war games exercise taking place on Russian soil. debkafile reports that a Russian military train transported Chinese units to the maneuvers from their common border in Mongolia.