Saudi Arabia is eyeing the Russian-made S-400 “Triumf” long-range air-defense system as a possible replacement for the missile defense systems recently withdrawn from the Kingdom by the US, the London-based al-Arab reported on September 16.
Over the last few weeks, the US withdrew a THAAD [Terminal High Altitude Area Defense] missile defense system and several Patriot batteries from Saudi Arabia.
Sources close to Saudi Arabia told the al-Arab that the Kingdom is upset from the US move. Yet, it wants to maintain a strong relationship with Washington.
“Saudi Arabia wants to maintain a strong relationship with Washington, provided that this does not hinder its efforts to obtain what it needs of advanced weapons to defend its security,” the sources told the newspaper.
According to the sources, Saudi officials are yet to understand the motives behind the US decision, which came amid a surge in drone and missile attacks targeting the Kingdom. The Houthis (Ansar Allah) launch such attacks from Yemen on a regular basis.
In its initial responded to the US move, Saudi Arabia rented a Patriot battery from Greece. The battery was sent to the Kingdom on September 14.
Now Saudi Arabia is in the look for a replacement for the THAAD and Patriot systems. Russia’s S-400, according to al-Arab’s sources, is the main candidate. The system has the ability to intercept ballistic missiles as well as drones from a safe distance.
Over the last few years, there were many reports of Saudi plans to purchase the S-400. These plans were hindered by pressure from the US, which sanctions its NATO ally Turkey over a similar deal with Russia.
While Saudi Arabia appears to be today closer than ever to purchasing the Russian air-defense system, pressure from Washington could stop such a deal.
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