[Editor’s note: Many voices have been clamouring for Russia to do something to curtail Israeli aggression against Syria. Donating 300s deadly, state of the art missiles free of charge to bolster Syria’s defences definitely counts as ‘doing something’. Tel-Aviv will not be best pleased. Ian]
Russia has donated to Syria three battalion sets of S-300PM missile systems of eight launchers each, a military diplomatic source told TASS on Monday.
“On October 1, three battalion sets of S-300PM systems of eight launchers each were delivered to Syria,” the source said.
“These systems were previously deployed at one of the Russian aerospace forces’ regiments which now uses the S-400 Triumf systems. The S-300 systems underwent capital repairs at Russian defense enterprises, are in good condition and are capable of performing combat tasks,” the source said, adding that the S-300PM systems were handed over to the Syrian side free of charge.
According to the source, along with the launchers Russia delivered more than 100 surface-to-air guided missiles for each battalion.
An agreement on supplies of Russian S-300 missile defense systems to Syria were signed as far back as 2010 but was later frozen. Following the incident with the Russia Ilyushin-20 reconnaissance plane over the Mediterranean, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on September 24, 2018 that Russia would supply S-300 systems to the Syrian army to reinforce its combat capacities. On October 2, Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin that the S-300 systems had reached Syria.
On Tuesday, Shoigu said Russia had supplied Syria with 49 pieces of equipment as part of the S-300 delivery intended to boost security of the Russian taskforce in that country. The equipment included radars, control vehicles and four launchers. According to the minister, the delivery was finished a day ago.
The S-300 is an air defense missile system able to eliminate advanced aircraft, including planes using stealth technology, medium-range ballistic missiles, tactical and cruise missiles, and also airborne early warning and control (AWACS/AEW&C) aircraft as well as reconnaissance and strike systems.
The expert believes that in order to ease tensions Russia should maintain a dialogue with Israel
Air defense systems S-300 will impede Israeli Air Force flights, including reconnaissance ones, over Syria. Although Tel-Aviv earlier said it would not give up its operations, the S-300 factor puts pressure on the Israeli leadership, the chief of the Bureau of Military-Political Analysis, Alexander Mikhailov, told TASS on Monday.
Earlier, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel would not give up its operations in Syria in defiance of the supply of Russia’s S-300 systems to that country.
“When Russia’s S-300s are turned on over Syrian-Israeli points of engagement, the Israeli pilots know they are on Russian radars. Naturally, they report this to their superiors and this puts pressure on the Israeli leadership,” Mikhailov said.
“The Israeli leadership’s position has been determined – Israel wants to go ahead with unhampered flights over Syria’s border areas and press for its decisions regarding the presence of Iranian forces there, which under our agreements with Israel are now leaving these territories,” Mikhailov said.
He believes that if Israel continues to coordinate its actions with the Russian group in Syria further on, it will be possible to avoid incidents in the future.
“We would like to believe that if Israel and the Israeli Defense Ministry hold consultations with the Russian group in Syria over all activities, no conflicts will ever emerge. I believe that the Israeli leadership will display common sense not to repeat such incidents and to stay out of the areas where our systems are turned on,” Mikhailov said.
He believes that in order to ease tensions Russia should maintain a dialogue with Israel.
“We should conduct a mutually beneficial dialogue with Israel and address it with fresh reminders that combat operations are in progress away from the Russian borders, but near the Israeli ones, so it would make no sense to aggravate the already complicated situation… One would like to believe that the Israeli Defense Ministry will refrain from provoking the Syrian air defense into hitting Israeli aircraft,” he added.
Russia’s reconnaissance and radio-electronic warfare plane Ilyushin-20 was shot down over the Mediterranean on September 17 while returning to the Hmeymim airbase. The Russian Defense Ministry said the plane was downed with a missile launched by Syria’s air defense system S-200, which was counterattacking four Israeli jets F-16 during their strikes against targets in Latakia province. The Ilyushin-20’s fifteen crew were killed in the tragedy.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on September 24 said that the loss of the Ilyushin-20 in Syria due to the Israeli air pilots’ actions forced Moscow to take extra security measures.
Russia’s air defense systems S-300 will be deployed in Syria within two weeks, the command posts of Syria’s air defense will be equipped with automatic Russian systems capable of identifying Russian planes and Russian means of radio-electronic warfare will pose obstructions to air strikes against targets in Syria.