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22 September, 2019 00:00 00 AM

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Russia mocks ‘brilliant’ US systems that failed to stop Saudi oil attack

THE WASHINGTON POST, Washington
Russia mocks ‘brilliant’ US systems that failed to stop Saudi oil attack
A destroyed installation in Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq oil processing plant is pictured on Friday. AFP photo

The attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities last weekend were a disaster for both Riyadh and Washington, with weapons allegedly made in Iran circumventing expensive U.S. missile defense systems.

But in Moscow, news of the attack was greeted as yet another chance to mock the United States and its allies - all while extolling the virtues of Russia’s own missile defense technology.

“We still remember the fantastic U.S.

missiles that failed to hit a target more than a year ago, while now the brilliant U.S. air defense systems could not repel an attack,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing on Friday. “These are all links in a chain.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Ankara for a meeting with Turkish and Iranian leaders on Monday, went further by suggesting that Saudi Arabia would have been saved from Saturday’s attack if they had purchased a missile defense system made by Russia.

“The political leadership of Saudi Arabia just needs to make a wise state decision,” Putin said on Monday, pointing to the purchase of the S-300 missile system by Iran and the S-400 missile system by Turkey.

The rivalry between the United States and Russia over arms sales has existed ever since the Cold War; between 2014 and 2018, they were the two largest exporters of arms in the world, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

But over the past few years, that rivalry has grown especially bitter as geopolitical conflict and new technology brought U.S. and Russian arms into close contact. In the Middle East, where tension and war have led to a surge in arms sales, Washington and Moscow often compete for the same clients. Though the United States generally claims to offer superiority, some weapons systems produced by Russia are challenging that. Chief among them is the S-400 missile defense system, a widely-touted - though ultimately untested - rival to the U.S.-made Patriot missile system.

The attack on the oil facilities in the Saudi districts of Khurais and Abqaiq on Saturday morning appeared to involve cruise missiles and drones that were able to avoid detection by and activation of Saudi Arabia’s missile defense system.

Notably, that system includes Patriot batteries and it is generally designed to combat ballistic missiles and airplanes that can be spotted from further away.

As cruise missiles and drones can fly closer to the ground, the curvature of the earth makes them harder for radar to spot unless the radar is elevated.

Russia’s systems are capable of using mobile radar masts to combat this problem. The S-400 is also designed to operate in any direction, whereas Patriot systems are limited to whatever direction they are set up in: some analysts have suggested that many of the Patriot batteries deployed near the oil facilities targeted on Saturday may not have been looking in the right direction to deter the attack.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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