Russia ships S-300 air defence missiles out of Syria - satellite images

Separate images showed the battery components on a dock at Tartus between August 12 and 17

The S-300 missile system entered service with the Soviet armed forces in 1978 and has been used by dozens of powers. Reuters
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Russia has shipped a battery of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles from Syria to a Russian port near Crimea, according to an Israeli satellite imaging company, in what may be an effort to strengthen its air defences in its conflict with Ukraine.

ImageSat International (ISI) captured pictures showing the presence of the S-300 anti-aircraft battery at Masyaf, Syria in April, and the empty site on August 25 after the hardware was shipped to the port of Tartus, Reuters reported.

Images showed the battery components on a dock at Tartus between August 12 and 17, ISI said.

By August 20 they went gone, and ISI concluded they had been transferred to a Russian vessel, Sparta II, which left Tartus for the Russian port of Novorossiysk.

Marine traffic data from Refinitiv Eikon showed the Sparta II in Novorossiysk, having arrived by the Dardanelles Strait.

The Russian Defence Ministry declined to comment.

Russia has maintained a military presence in Syria since 2015, when it intervened in the civil war there on the side of President Bashar Al Assad.

If confirmed, the transfer would indicate a Russian move to bolster air defences near the theatre of war in Ukraine, where its forces have sustained damaging attacks in recent weeks.

In one such incident, eight Russian combat planes were destroyed this month in a series of explosions at an airbase in Crimea.

Ukraine has declined to say if — or how — it carried out the attacks.

ISI images showed the radar component of the S-300 battery had been moved separately from the same Masyaf base to the Khmeimim airbase on the Syrian coast, north of Tartus.

The company's analysts said they assessed that the size and weight of the radar made it unsuitable for shipment by sea, and may require an airlift from Khmeimim to Russia.

Updated: August 30, 2022, 9:00 AM