Russian president Vladimir Putin on 13 April rescinded a ‘voluntary’ ban on the sale of the S-300 air defence system to Iran, ostensibly as a result of the Lausanne nuclear agreement.
Iranian operators were trained on the S-300 in Russia as recently as 2010, after signing a USD800-million contract for the sale of the S-300 with Iran. Iran has given Russia USD200 million as a downpayment already.
Politically, the lifting of the ban sends a signal to the West that Russia is treating the initial nuclear agreement reached in Lausanne as having removed any justification for Iran’s continued isolation. Militarily, the likely availability of trained personnel in Iran, and Iran’s likely ability to pay for the S-300 soon, even without implementation of sanctions relief, indicate that the S-300 could become operational in Iran within months.