Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 238

The Russian daily Rossiiskaya gazeta reported yesterday that two Belarusan arms exporting companies are about to sell Russia’s newest air defense missile system to an unnamed foreign country, and that Moscow is upset over the deal. The system was identified as the ZRK S-300 PM, the latest version of the S-300 series. The Belarusans were said to have gotten their hands on the system in a round-about way. The prototype was tested at the Sary Shagan range in the republic of Kazakhstan before the breakup of the Soviet Union. When Kazakhstan became independent it appropriated the missiles and other hardware. Earlier this year, the Kazakhs sold the equipment to Belarus. The Belarusan arms export company, Beltekhexport, then commissioned a group of Russian specialists to obtain some missing electronic components. Beltekhexport, together with the arms trading company Okta, are said to be preparing the system for foreign sale.

Beltekhexport has raised Russian hackles before. In late 1994 it sold an earlier version of the S-300 to an American company that was fronting for the U.S. Defense Department. A chartered Russian An-124-100 heavy-lift transport flew the anti-aircraft system from Minsk to the U.S. Army’s Missile & Space Intelligence Center at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, where it was analyzed. At the time, Russian authorities downplayed the intelligence loss by saying the system in American hands was not the latest version of the S-300. Beltekhexport may be set to remedy that oversight.

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