Russia To Send Anti-Aircraft Missiles To Syria

The move will raise tensions with Israel.

An S-300 Missile system
Host photo agency / RIA Novosti via Getty Images

The move will raise tensions with Israel.

After having earlier threatened to respond to Israel downing one of its aircraft, as reported by the Inquisitr, Russia appears to have made good on that threat by preparing to send Syria an S-300 air defense system, says Al Jazeera.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the announcement on Russian state television on Monday and cited the Israeli downing of the plane as part of the reasoning for the decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Shoigu said that he was providing the modern system as a “response measure” without explicitly mentioning Israel.

Shoigu’s announcement came after a statement from the Kremlin accusing the Israeli pilots responsible for downing the Russian plane of making a “deliberate action,” countering the Israeli defense that the incident was just a mistake.

Despite ostensibly being a retaliation to the incident involving the Israeli military allegedly shooting down the Russian aircraft, the official statement said the aim was solely to increase the safety of Russian pilots and not directly aimed at Israel.

Beyond supplying the Syrian government with the S-300 system, Russia will include blocking software designed to block navigation, satellite, and communications systems of warplanes in the region, which would certainly impact Israeli operations in and near Syria.

The incident, which killed 15 Russian military servicemen, had led to increased tension between the two countries. This has led to the retaliation seen in issuing Syria the system, with Russia claiming it has a right to retaliate.

Russia had planned on sending an S-300 to Syria as part of a deal the two countries signed in 2013, which Israel had raised concern about. That led to Russia agreeing in negotiations with Israel to not send the system to the Syrians but after the incident last week, Russia has decided to go against that agreement and send the weapon anyway.

Military analysts in the area report that Syrian military has been trained on the weapon’s system already, with Russian officials coming to Syria for the training.

Elias Farhat, a military analyst in the region, described the weapon as “a very effective anti-aircraft missile,” when speaking with Al Jazeera.

“That will change the situation dramatically, and there will be no more freedom of movement for the Israeli air force in Syrian airspace.”

Last week’s incident collapsed the relationship in Syria between Israel and Russia, which had previously been working well. The two nations set up a special hotline to provide information on pending aerial activities to prevent clashes like what happened, something that both parties agreed was working well.

When the S-300 is installed, Israel’s air raids in Syria will no doubt be limited to stop what it sees as the greatest threat to its security.