Russia’s decision to deliver S-300 air defense systems to Syria will face Israel’s counteraction and might be used by the Jewish state as a pretext for receiving more advanced weapons from the United States, experts told Sputnik on Monday.
Earlier in the day, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced measures on increasing security of Russian servicemen in response to the crash of Russian Il-20 military aircraft in Syria, which Russia believes Israel was responsible for. According to the minister, Russia would equip the Syrian air defense forces’ command posts with automatic control systems, which had been previously possessed only by Russia, jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aviation attacking Syrian targets and, most importantly, supply S-300 air defense systems to Syria.
Announcing the deliveries of the Russian air defense systems, Shoigu indicated that Russia suspended the shipments of S-300 systems to Syria at Israel’s request in 2013, but stressed that since then the situation had changed and not through the fault of Russia.
Israel To Attempt To Stop Missile Systems
According to experts, Israel might attempt to pause the Russian missile systems since they threatened to become an obstacle to frequent airstrikes on targets in Syria.
“Of course, Israel will try to attack and pause the air defense positions, but will not be able to execute that since the Syrian army has already remedied not only this aspect, but also other fields and can stand up for itself properly,” Syrian political analyst Ali Ahmad told Sputnik.
Egyptian military expert Adel Suleiman agreed with Ahmad, saying that Israel might attempt to attack the air defense systems in the future.
“Israel quite well can attack these systems. He has been used to carrying out attacks on air defense systems in Lebanon, Syria over last 45 years, regardless of whether it was a military base or a radar system,” Suleiman said.
He also warned that Israel might try to talk Moscow out of handing over its missile systems to Syria, asking it to abandon or postpone the device.
“Israel as usual will try to persuade Russia to call off or postpone the deal, since this decision clearly is targeted against it. Israel will try to persuade Russia in the future it will much more careful in coordinating areas and targets of future operations,” Suleiman added.
Tarek Ahmad, a representative of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), in turn, doubted in his comments to Sputnik that the deal might be delayed, saying that Russia was firm in its intention and was not merely employing a negotiating tactic with Israel.
“Some say that Russia has threatened to deliver S-300 to Syria before, but never did, and this could be a negotiation tactic with Israel, but not this time. This time there is a date and the message is delivered by the Russian defense minister. It will be executed. Russia and Syria maintain already signed the deal on S-300 deliveries and it will be implemented,” Ahmad said.
Us To Join The Game
Since the deliveries of Russia’s air defense systems to Syria seem to be inevitable, experts in their comments to Sputnik said they believed that Israel might spend the issue as a pretext to quiz the United States for increased military supplies.
Hamdi Bakheet, a member of the Egyptian parliamentary committee for defense and national security, said he believed that Israel would try to de-escalate tensions triggered by the incident with the Russian aircraft through diplomatic channels.
“But at the same time [Israel] will try to spend the situation and receive more advanced weapons for its army from the United States,” Bakheet stated.
Ahmad supported this thesis saying that the unusual weapons might be used to pause the Russian missile systems.
“I am sure that the United States will seek to deliver even more advanced weapons to Israel… Israel will try to pause the unusual air defense systems,” Ahmad stated.
He argued that Israel had never been a sovereign country and always followed the US policies.
“Israel always encroaches on the sovereignty of all the region’s countries. And it acts in the interests of the West… in particular, impedes economic growth and development of other fields,” Ahmad stated.
Bakheet said he believed that Moscow’s step made a considerable contribution in the security situation in Syria and suggested that the Russian missile complex not only will be able to defend the territories where Russia servicemen are deployed, but the entire Syrian territory.
“Russia’s statement indicates that the Syrian government will receive one of the most advanced systems, which will cover the entire Syrian territory, extending beyond the Russian servicemen deployment areas. Any aviation, which will be classified by the Syrian military forces as an enemy, will become the target of such modern systems of air defense,” Bakheet indicated.
Hasan Oktay, the director of Turkey’s Kafkassam center for strategic studies, also pointed to Moscow decision implications for security in the region.
“Russia wants to deliver S-300 to [Syria] to enhance the defense of its military bases. That is why it will enhance security in the region in any case… From Turkey’s point of view, which recognizes Syria’s territorial integrity, it would be helpful. Since Turkey and Russia maintain reached principal agreements on Syria, the Russian side has the flying paths of the Turkish aircraft, and Russia will monitor the spend of air-defense systems, there is no threat to Turkish planes,” Oktay said.
Oktay stressed that the decision on S-300 was likely to cause serious concerns in Israel, which would try to act more prudently in the region.