Russia to provide advanced air defenses to Syria

Russia will supply Syria with the sophisticated S-300 air defense system, ignoring Israel’s request not to do so.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

The Russian military has indicated it will supply the Syrian government with an advanced air defense system, to the chagrin of Israel, which requested Russia not take this step.

Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi said in a statement Wednesday that Russia will supply Syria with “new missile defense systems soon.”

Rudskoi did not specify the type of weapons, but his remarks follow reports in the Russian media that Moscow is considering providing its S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Syria.

Top Russian officials said earlier this month that Moscow may reconsider a pledge it gave a decade ago not to provide Syria with the S-300 system in light of airstrikes on Syria earlier this month carried out by a US-led coalition and reportedly by Israel’s Air Force (IAF) in a separate incident.

Russia is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has issued a stern warning to Russia over the deployment of the advanced S-300 systems in Syria, declaring that Israel would view such a deployment as crossing a red line and would destroy the systems.

Russian defense officials warned Israel that if it “decides to carry out rocket strikes on the deployment locations of the S-300, the consequences will be catastrophic for all sides.”

The S-300 is one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world, designed to intercept aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles and would significantly upgrade Syria’s defensive capabilities.

Israel is very concerned about Syria having such systems and Jerusalem made an effort to convince Russia not to provide them to Syria because it would make a successful air strike against targets Israel deems a threat much more difficult and dangerous to achieve.

Former Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon has downplayed the S-300 capability. “Any system that the opposing side equips itself with poses a challenge. [However], any system created by man can be overcome by man, and I am glad we have an outstanding military industry,” he said in 2015.

Russia has provided Iran with such systems in recent years.