Archive for the ‘Putin and Syria war’ category

Israel can meet the S-300 challenge

April 27, 2018

By Oded Granot April 26, 2018 Israel Hayom

Source Link: Israel can meet the S-300 challenge

{My bet is these systems have already been compromised. – LS}

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s response to the recent U.S.-led strike on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical arsenal was delivered Wednesday in the form of a laconic statement by Moscow’s Defense Ministry, saying that Russia will “soon” provide Syria with its advanced S-300 missile defense system.

The Russian statement was expected and was very much a part of the cold war now waged between Washington and Moscow, aggravated by the April 14 strike. While it is doubtful that the barrage of Tomahawk missiles fired on Syria would deter Assad from using chemical weapons in the future, the strike was an affront to Putin. It illustrated him as unable to defend his ally, Assad, from the West and dented his international prestige.

This may appear as yet another time in which the U.S. and Russia lock horns. But the delivery of advanced missile defense systems to Syria is also likely to pose an issue for the Israeli Air Force with respect to maintaining Israel’s stated red lines in Syria, namely preventing Iran from entrenching itself militarily there and preventing the transfer of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The concerns are justified, but three points must be made regarding this defense system:

  1. Russia may have said it would supply Assad with S-300 missiles, but it has yet to do so and Moscow officials on Wednesday strongly denied Syria’s assertion that it was already in possession of these missiles.
  2. The S-300 is an effective anti-aircraft defense system but it is, to a large extent, outdated and Russia has ceased its production about two years ago. The last system of this type was supplied to the Iranians, and Assad stands to receive either the batteries the Russians already have in Syria or ones decommissioned by the Russian military.
  3. According to foreign reports, and despite the potential restrictions on the IAF’s operational freedom in Syria, the IAF already has an operational response to S-300 missiles – if and when Israel may need to mount one.

The crux of the matter here has less to do with the anti-aircraft missile system and more to do with the system of understandings between Israel and Russia. While Russia has warned Israel against targeting S-300 batteries, Israel asserted that it would not hesitate to do so if it was used against its forces. Public rhetoric aside, the two countries have maintained effective communications that have already proved they can eliminate danger.

However, the pace of regional events over the past few weeks has accelerated so rapidly that the winds may change at any minute. U.S. President Donald Trump decision on the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran is looming and come May 12, if the U.S. exits the accord, an attempt by Iran to retaliate on the April 9 strike on the T4 air base in Homs or another Israeli mission to stop weapons shipments to Hezbollah could prompt a security escalation that no one wants.

 

Is a thick gaseous cloud hiding Russia’s first S-300 delivery to Syria?

April 19, 2018

Debka April 19, 2018

Source Link: Is a thick gaseous cloud hiding Russia’s first S-300 delivery to Syria?

{We’ll know for sure once they are deployed. – LS}

As Israel celebrated its 70th anniversary, a Russian ship unloaded a suspect military cargo from a freighter at the Syrian port of Tartous. Was Moscow answering Israel’s celebration by delivering advanced S-300 air defense missiles as a show of support for Bashar Assad?

This not confirmed. However, DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Russians undoubtedly took advantage of Israel’s preoccupation with its Independence Day revelries to deliver advanced weapons systems for the Syrian army. The Russian ship docked in Tartous on Wednesday afternoon, April 18. Before unloading it, they positioned in the Russian section of the port giant compressors which spewed thick gaseous clouds over the operation to hide it from oversight by Israel’s surveillance planes, drones and satellites. This tactic intensified Israel’s suspicion that the cargo included S-300 weapons systems.

On Tuesday, April 17, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow had refused Syria’s demand for the advanced S-300 missiles, but since the “appalling act of aggression” committed by the US, France and Britain, “Moscow was ready to consider any means to help the Syrian army curb further aggression.”

According to our military sources, the Russian vessel was sighted crossing through the Bosporus near Istanbul on Monday, i.e., just two days after the Western strike on Syria’s chemical sites. No attempt was made to conceal the presence on its decks of military equipment, which looked like the command vehicles of missile batteries and radar apparatus. The ship was loaded at the Russian military port of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea.

 

Putin lands in Syria on announced visit to create false impression war is over

December 11, 2017

Putin lands in Syria on announced visit to create false impression war is over, DEBKAfile, December 11, 2017

The fact remains that US and Kurdish forces control parts of northern Syria; Islamist extremists groups led by the Al Qaeda-affiliated Hayat Tahrir al-Sham rule much of Syria’s largest province of Idlib, and motley Syrian rebel groups hold onto areas around Damascus. Southern Syria is pretty much the same sort of patchwork quilt. The Syrian war is therefore very far from over.

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The Russian President Vladimir Putin’s airplane made a surprise landing Monday. Dec. 11, at the Russian Hmeimim air base in Latakia and announced he had ordered Russian troops to start withdrawing from Syria.

Putin arrived with defense minister Col. Gen. Sergey Shoigu. Straight after his welcome by a guard of honor composed of Russian units serving in the Syrian war, Putin took the microphone for this announcement: “I order the defense minister and chief of the general staff to start the withdrawal of Russian troops to their permanent bases.” He went on to say: “In the space of two years, the Russian and Syrian militaries have defeated the most battle-hardened grouping of international terrorists.” He then issued a warning to the various terrorist elements still operating in Syria, “Russia will strike them as they have been seen before.”

Putin then sat down with Syrian President Bashar Assad who came to the base to see him. Later Monday, the Russian president has scheduled trips to Egypt and Turkey.

DEBKAfile adds: Putin staged his surprise visit to Syria and comments in order to generate the impression that the Syrian war was over – which he has been trying to do for some weeks – that it had ended in victory for the “Russia and Syrian militaries” and that the time had come for a political resolution.

He omitted mention of the Iranian and pro-Iranian Shiite militias, including Hizballah, their partners in combat on the ground, in which very few Russian troops took part. The main Russian contribution to Assad’s war was and is air support for those ground troops, who filled the depleted ranks of the Syrian army. In ordering the withdrawal of Russian units from Syria, Putin did not specify whether the air units were also being withdrawn. But his warning to “terrorists” still fighting in Syria indicated that in reality the war is far from over. Assad’s heavily reduced army lacks manpower for holding onto areas recently liberated from Syrian rebel forces and he is hard put just to defend his capital, Damascus. The Shiite militias fighting under Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanders can’t do without massive Russian air and intelligence support

The Russian president also skipped reference to the US coalition fighting ISIS in Syria, including the Kurdish YPG militia which liberated Raqqa, pretending the “victory” was just down to the Russian and Syrian armies. But his presentation of the situation is bound to boomerang. The fact remains that US and Kurdish forces control parts of northern Syria; Islamist extremists groups led by the Al Qaeda-affiliated Hayat Tahrir al-Sham rule much of Syria’s largest province of Idlib, and motley Syrian rebel groups hold onto areas around Damascus. Southern Syria is pretty much the same sort of patchwork quilt. The Syrian war is therefore very far from over.