February 19, 2020

Almost a month (on 8 January 2020) ago the airspace above Iran has become the place for terrible accident that took many lives and divided many families’ lives into ‘before and after’. PS752 (UIA-752) was shot down by the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) shortly after takeoff from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport. All 176 passengers and crew were killed.

Despite initial denials of its fault and attempts to highlight human error as the main cause, the IRGC admitted guilt. They stated they had mistaken PS752 for a cruise missile. Iranian president H.Rouhani has described this terrible accident as an ‘unfogivable mistake’. But nothing to fall back.

In any case the fact is Iran shot down PS752 (UIA-752) using a Russia-made SA-15 missile that was already maintained by results of investigation carried out by international intelligence community.

It bears noting that Iran procures the majority of its weapons from Russia. Their bilateral defense cooperation has long history and is developing in different directions, ranging from military equipment supplies – Iran is the second biggest country in the Middle East. It has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East and is developing indigenous weapon systems such as long-range missiles – to joint exercise. By the way last year Iran and Russia have, for the first time in the history of their relations, signed an agreement on maritime defense cooperation.

Оn the surface everything is clear. But in the history around the PS752 crash there is one feature setting us thinking. Having such good ties and suppling military equipment to its ‘brother’-partner, why Russia has not ensured the qualified training for the staff to avoid possible mistakes? If Russia is going to provide weaponry to a particular country, then it should as reliable supplier ensure customers have proper training, including the ability to distinguish between incoming civilian aircraft and military aircraft.

It worth noting this is not the first case of such mistaken short down. We may note similarities between the downing of the 2014 Malaysia Airline flight 17 (MH-17) and the downing of the UIA-752. Both planes were brought down by Russian made anti-aircraft missiles. Like with UIA-752, Russia-led forces who shot down MH-17 in eastern Ukraine were unable to differentiate between civilian and military aircraft. Or there may be another cause: technical failure of Russian made anti-aircraft missiles.

Anyway the question about Russia’s unreliability as military equipment supplier has arisen. So each country respecting itself should consider carefully all possible consequences of such cooperation. 

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