Russian Federation to supply S-300 air defense system to Syria


Russia announced on Monday it will supply an S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria in two weeks despite strong Israeli objections, a week after Moscow blamed Israel for indirectly causing the downing of a Russian military plane in Syria.

"The information provided by the Israeli military...runs counter to conclusions of the Russian defense ministry", the Kremlin said of the call, adding that the actions of the Israeli pilots had led to the plane being targeted by Syrian air defence systems.

But Monday, the Kremlin seemed to take a tougher stance, blaming the downing on "the deliberate actions of Israeli pilots" and saying Israel's explanations weren't convincing, according to spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft with 15 servicemen on board disappeared from radars on September 17 as four Israeli F-16 warplanes were attacking state institutions in Syria's Latakia Province, which is home to Russia-run Hmeimim airbase.

Shoigu said S-300 missiles will strongly strengthen combat capabilities of the Syrian air defense due to their jamming invulnerability and firing speed.

Putin also spoke by phone with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to discuss the move.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the defense ministry to take several measures in response to the incident, the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

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Iranian-backed Hezbollah is also an enemy of Israel, which has carried out strikes in Syria to stop what it says are advanced arms deliveries to the Shiite group.

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.

"The Israel air force did not hide behind any aircraft and the Israeli planes were in Israeli airspace when the Syrian [missiles] hit the Russian plane", the military claimed in a statement.

"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", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Russian Federation also accused Israel of using a hotline set up between the two sides to avoid airborne collisions to mislead Russian Federation about its plans.

"Most importantly, we will guarantee the identification of all Russian aircraft by the Syrian air defense systems", Shoigu said. It has long lobbied Moscow not to provide the S-300 system to Syria.

Israel's former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, who now heads the influential Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said he assumed the air force would work quickly to destroy the S-300, if it were indeed handed over to Syria. "This high-precision campaign it has been carrying out will become more hard". Sly reported from Beirut.