Russia's delivery of S-300 to Syria is of forced nature

Mikhail Simonov, exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
Russia's delivery of S-300 to Syria is of forced nature

Russia has started delivering S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Syria. Now it seems that the situation in a troubled region bill become even more difficult. "Russia has already started delivering S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Syria," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference after delivering a speech at a meeting of the UN General Assembly, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who noted that deliveries were started immediately after the downing of a Russian Il-20."

The Il-20 plane was downed on September 17 by Syrian air defense systems, resulting in the death of 15 people. Moscow has laid the blame with Tel Aviv: Israel's F-16 aircraft used the IL-20 as cover, exposing it to Syrian missiles. Tel Aviv, realizing that it's gotten pretty scary, sent a delegation of Israeli military headed by Israeli Air Force Commander Major General Amikam Norkin. The delegation, as it was reported, brought a whole volume of the text, supposedly explaining that the Israeli air force has nothing to do with the tragedy, it was the fault of Iran, Syria and paramilitary forces.

Based upon the reaction of Moscow, which has started delivering S-300 systems, it wasn't satisfied with Tel Aviv's explanations. The Israeli military department issued a controversial statement that it intends to coordinate its actions in the region with the Russian forces, that the security of these Russian forces is a component of successful actions against the enemy forces, and that the Israeli forces will continue to fulfill its goals in this region.

An explanation that the measures taken are aimed at guaranteeing 100% security of Russian servicemen and enhancing combat capabilities was attached to Russia's delivery of S-300. The Syrian foreign ministry's reaction to the supplies was sharp. It said that Israel would think 100 times before before bombing Syrian territories, and Syrian airspace would be closed to enemy forces, "thanks to the S-300 systems, which are capable of intercepting air threats at a range of more than 250 kilometers and simultaneously hitting several aerial targets."

American geopolitical intelligence platform Stratfor believes that the situation in Syria may become more complicated. According to western analysts, Israel could unleash a barrage of cruise missiles, and if Russia starts using air defense forces against Israel, then the development of the situation will be unpredictable. The risk that Syria's civil war will turn into a regional one will only increase.

Russia, in turn, intends to modernize the Syrian air defense, which will ensure central coordination of all Syrian air defense forces and means, monitoring of the air situation, so  the identification of all Russian aircraft by the Syrian forces will be guaranteed.

This raises the question of why it has not been done before. A military observer of the TASS news agency, retired Colonel Viktor Litovkin, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, said that the contract to deliver the S-300 PMU-1 was concluded between Russia and Syria in 2013: "But a serious government delegation arrived from Israel, which I guess even included Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel's prayer not to deliver this complex to Damascus, since it will close the sky over Israel, was satisfied. The S-300 radar covers up to 400 kilometers, it can shoot down targets at a distance of 150 km (aircraft) and 60 km (ballistic targets and cruise missiles). We did what Tel Aviv wanted, the contract was abandoned and 400 million were returned to Syria". However, according to the military expert, Israeli fighters continued their flights in the skies of Lebanon and near the Syrian borders, striking at Iranian facilities, as well as at Hezbollah's bases in Syria. "We did not interfere, only helped Damascus in its fight against ISIS. Today, the situation has changed, and both  the Russian Ministry of Defense and in the Kremlin believe that it was the fault of Israel," Litovkin said.