MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and Kazakhstan are looking to cooperate on a ballistic missile early warning system and Moscow is planning to sell Astana its S-300 defense missile system, Russian agency Itar-Tass reported Wednesday.
Russia froze an order of the surface-to-air missiles to Iran earlier this year, citing restrictions under sanctions the U.N. Security Council imposed on Tehran in June over its nuclear activities.
The Defense Ministers of the two former Soviet countries met Wednesday in Moscow to discuss strengthening military ties.
“The talks focused on ... Kazakhstan’s participation in the ballistic missile early warning system,” Defense Ministry spokeswoman Irina Kovalchuk was quoted as saying, following the meeting between Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and his Kazakh counterpart Adilbek Jaksybekov.
Moscow, which has improved relations with its former Cold War foe NATO, has been urging the alliance to allow Russia’s cooperation in a U.S.-led European missile defense system plan.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said failure to include Russia on the alliance’s missile defense plans would trigger a new arms race.
The S-300 is a high-precision missile system, which Moscow has supplied to China and Venezuela.
“The discussions are underway for the relevant contracts,” said Kovalchuk, without mentioning how many units it planned on buying.
Analysts say Kazakhstan has been in talks to buy two units of the system, which would cost approximately $150 million.
Russia and Kazakhstan have maintained strong defense ties since the breakup of the Soviet Union, when Kazakhstan inherited a large amount of Soviet military equipment. New oil and gas revenues have boosted its ability to spend on defense.
Reporting by Thomas Grove, editing by Ralph Boulton