A senior Russian politician has said Moscow still plans to supply an advanced aerial defence system to Qatar despite Saudi Arabia‘s reported opposition.
In comments made to local media, Aleksei Kondratyev, a member of the Russian upper house and the deputy chairman of the committee on Defence and Security, said Russia will pursue its own objectives in determining sales of its S-400 surface-to-air missiles.
“Russia seeks its own interest, supplying S-400 to Qatar and earning money for the state budget. Saudi Arabia’s position has nothing to do with it, Russia’s plans will not change,” Kondratyev was quoted as saying by Sputnik on Saturday.
“It is clear that Riyadh plays a dominant role in the region, but Qatar gets an advantage by enhancing its armed forces due to the acquisition of Russian S-400 systems. Therefore, Saudi Arabia’s tension is understandable.”
Kondratyev said it is also in the United States’ interest to prevent the sale of the S-400 since this means it will “lose a very lucrative regional market of weapons”.
His comments come a day after French daily Le Monde reported that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman threatened to take military action if Qatar installed the Russian-made air defence system.
In a letter addressed to Emmanuel Macron, the Saudi monarch asked the French president to pressure Doha into not acquiring the S-400.
The king said he was worried about the consequences of Doha’s acquisition of the system which he said threatened Saudi security interests.
In January, Qatar’s ambassador to Russia said talks for the acquisition of the air-defence system were “at an advanced stage”.
This came after the signing of an agreement on military and technical cooperation between the two countries in October 2017 to further cooperation in the defence field during a visit by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to the Gulf state.
On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia – alongside fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Egypt – imposed a sea, air and land blockade on Qatar, accusing it of supporting “terrorism” and destabilising the region, allegations Doha has consistently denied.
Among its list of 13 demands for the resolution of the crisis, the blockading quartet asked that Al Jazeera media network and a Turkish military base be shut down. Qatar rejected all demands.