Tension as Russian Federation provides missile system to Syria

Geneva Stokes
September 28, 2018

Last week, Russia's foreign ministry said Israel must provide Moscow with more information about the downing of the military aircraft near the Syrian coast.

According to the ministry, data from the radar demonstrate that the Israeli F-16 fighter jets were staying in the area of the Russian Il-20's crash thus refuting the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) statement that they were already in Israel's airspace.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu said that transferring advanced weapons systems into irresponsible hands will increase the dangers in the region", Netanyahu's spokesman Ofir Gendelman said on Twitter after the call between the leaders.

In May 1949 Moscow votes in favour of Israel's admission to the United Nations.

Bolton said a political process was needed to end Syria's war but that Russia's plans with the S-300 made that hard.

Still, Israel worries that the advanced missile system could make it more hard for them to target Iranian positions inside Syria.

In remarks quoted by Russian news agency Interfax, Mr Shoigu said the delivery of the system had been suspended in 2013 following a request from Israel, but added: "Now, the situation has changed".

The Kremlin said Putin and Assad discussed the additional measures and delivery of the S-300 system on the phone on Monday.

Moscow has accused Israel's fighter pilots of using the bigger Ilyushin as cover, causing Syria's Soviet-era S-200 air defense system to interpret the Russian plane as a target.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad on Monday about his decision to strengthen Syria's air defence, including providing it with an S-300 surface-to-air missile system.

"According to information of our military experts, the reason [behind the downing] were premeditated actions by Israeli pilots which certainly can not but harm our relations", Peskov said. "The result of the downing of the Russian plane by Syrian fire is severe and tragic and we convey our condolences to the bereaved families and the Russian people".

Shoigu announced that Russia would also equip Syrian air defenses with a new automated control system to enhance its efficiency and help identify Russian aircraft.

Israel also notified the Russians 12 minutes before the attack - far longer than Moscow claims. Russian Federation had initially held off at the request of Israel.

"We think introducing the S-300s to the Syrian government would be a significant escalation by the Russians... and something that we hope, if these press reports are accurate, they would reconsider".

Speaking with reporters at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in NY on Monday, National Security Advisor John Bolton warned that "introducing the S-300s to the Syrian government would be a significant escalation by the Russians".

Syrian air defenses mistakenly shot down the Russian Il-20 surveillance plane on September 17 following an Israeli bombing raid.

Israel, which has struck Syria scores of times during the seven-year war, said after the incident that it would work to improve "deconfliction" of its missions, but would not halt them.

Putin wants to keep his strategic foothold in the region and also wants to ensure that the USA and Israel won't frustrate his achievements in Syria by weakening Hezbollah and other Iranian clients in the war-torn country.

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