Russia will deliver the advanced S-300 air defense system to Syria within two weeks and will also take efforts to jam radar of aircraft attacking Syria—an oblique warning to Israel—Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Monday. Shoigu said the stepped-up defense of Syria is Moscow’s response to the incident in which a Russian plane was accidentally downed by Syrian forces during an Israeli strike in Syrian territory, according to a report by Sputnik International.
Israel, which has denied they are to blame in the Russian plane incident, warned the same day as Shoigu’s announcement that delivering advanced weapons into the region would only make things worse. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone to deliver the message.
According to a summary of the call published by Netanyahu’s office, the Israeli leader “expressed his confidence in the credibility of the IDF investigation and its conclusions, and reiterated that the Syrian military, which brought down the plane, and Iran, whose aggression is undermining stability, are responsible for the unfortunate incident.”
In addition, while the summary did not mention the S-300 defense system by name, Netanyahu did tell Putin that “transferring advanced weapons systems into irresponsible hands will increase the dangers in the region, and added that Israel will continue to defend its security and its interests.”
Israel has repeatedly struck targets in Syrian territory to prevent Iran from establishing a base in Israel’s northern neighbor, as well as to prevent advanced weapons from reaching Syria’s ally, the Hezbollah terror group. However, Russia’s plans to upgrade Syrian air defenses and to assist in hampering efforts to attack Syria by air will complicate Israel’s actions.
The Russian announcement comes after the Israeli military, in a series of tweets to the IDF Spokeperson Twitter feed on Sunday, summarized their After Action Review on the Russian plane incident.
The IDF said in the tweets that their process with Russia to avoid inadvertent conflict in Syria was functioning “in the relevant timeframe” and “as it has been operating over the last two and a half years”. Furthermore, Israel’s aircraft “did not hide behind any aircraft and that the Israeli aircraft were in Israeli airspace at the time of the downing of the Russian plane.”
The press release from Netanyahu’s office said that he and Putin agreed to continue “inter-military coordination” during Monday’s call and the Israeli leader “again expressed his condolences over the death of Russian soldiers.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, September 24, 2018)