Prikhodko said the P-800 sale was approved by the Kremlin based on a
study of its affect on the military balance with Israel. He said Russian
weapons to Syria would not be directed "against any third party."
The P-800 Yakhont would mark the first acquisition of an anti-ship
missile by the Syrian Navy in at least a decade. Officials said the Yakhont
deal was part of an agreement by Damascus for the Russian Navy to expand its
presence in the Syrian ports of Latakia and Tartous.
Officials said Israel and Russia have been discussing the P-800 missile
sale to Syria. They said the issue would be high on the agenda of Israeli
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, hosted by his Russian counterpart, Anatoly
Serdyukov, during the former's scheduled to Moscow on Sept. 5.
"Some Israeli media distort the position of Russia towards fulfilling
its obligations with Syria, including military and technical cooperation,"
Officials said Israel has been concerned that the P-800 could also be
transferred by Syria to the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah. Moscow, faced with
Israeli evidence presented after the 2006 war in Lebanon, has acknowledged
that Hizbullah deployed Russian weapons sold to the Syrian military nearly a
The P-800, with a range of 300 kilometers, contains a 200-kilogram
warhead. Yakhont has been capable of skimming the sea and avoiding most
For Syria, the P-800 would represent a leap in capability. The Syrian
Navy has been employing the Chinese-origin C-802 anti-ship missile, with a
range of 120 kilometers.