Russia’s Weapons for Syria Come Under the Gun

Moscow. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Moscow. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Israel has taken a keen interest in Russian arms sales to the Syrian regime, and the topic is expected to come up on Tuesday during a meeting between the Israeli and Russian Prime Ministers. It appears that an advanced missile and air defense system that could significantly improve the Syrian regime’s weaponry is of particular concern. Should the Russian weapon reach Syria, it could make the Syrian civil war even more dangerous for the region and the world.

The Russian news agency RIA Novosti cited an official who said Benjamin Netanyahu is believed to address Russian weapons deals with Syria in Tuesday’s meeting with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin. The report follows an article from The Wall Street Journal saying Israel thinks Russia could start shipping the advanced S-300 system to Syria in the next few months.

The S-300 would noticeably upgrade Syria’s defense against attacks by missiles or by planes, which would make it much harder for the West to destroy dangerous Syrian weapons bound for terrorists or take out chemical weapons that could be used on civilians or fall into terrorist hands.

It could also prolong the war in Syria and make it much more deadly and costly for the West to get involved militarily in the Syrian civil war. The conflict has become a humanitarian nightmare with tens of thousands of civilians killed and well over a million refugees—leading to hundreds of millions of dollars of American tax dollars going to help the needy Syrians.

Furthermore, the longer the conflict continues, the more it has drawn in surrounding nations and risks a major Middle East war. While still difficult, one of the easiest ways for the West to intervene to try and end the fighting as quickly as possible is an air campaign. But if Russia delivers its S-300 air defense system to Syria, such a campaign would be far more challenging.

Russia has been an ally of Syria for decades and has twice vetoed United Nations action against the Syrian regime for atrocities committed against civilians.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, May 13, 2013)

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