Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the Defense Ministry in Moscow to bolster Syria’s capabilities against foreign air-strikes, that includes, supplying Damascus with advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile systems within two weeks. The announcement, which was made by Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, comes a week after his ministry accused Israel of indirectly causing the downing of a Russian military plane in Syria, killing 15 servicemen. In Shoigu words, “Within two weeks a modern surface-to-air missile system S-300 will be handed over (to Syria). It is capable of intercepting air assault weapons at range of more than 250 kilometers and at the same time hitting multiple aerial targets. Having advanced anti-jam facility and high fire rate. The system will strengthen Syrian air defense combat capabilities significantly.” In addition to the delivery of the S-300 systems, Russia will provide Syria with advanced radar jamming technologies of satellite navigation, as well as automated control systems, that will significantly increase its capability to identify and target foreign aircrafts and incoming missiles. According to the top Russian Defense official, the new measures will allow Assad’s forces to clearly differentiate between the different aircrafts operating in Syria’s airspace, with the aim of preventing similar tragedies, against Russia’s military personnel, from reoccurring. He stated that “We believe that implementation of these measures will cool the hot heads and hold from the ill-considered acts which carry out a threat to our servicemen. Otherwise, we will have to react in accordance with how the situation unfolds.” In response to the Russian announcement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a phone conversation with President Vladimir Putin, during which the Israeli leader warned that “transferring advanced weapons systems into irresponsible hands will increase the dangers in the region.” The Prime Minister was reportedly ‘not impressed by Putin’s answer’, who according to the Kremlin told Netanyahu that his decision was “aimed at protecting the (Russian) military.” According to the Israeli Government Press Office, Netanyahu emphasized to Putin that “Israel will continue to defend its security and its interests,” at any cost. “both leaders agreed to continue dialogue between their respective professional teams and the inter-military coordination via the military channels.”
Meanwhile, Washington has also voiced its contempt over Moscow’s decision. In a statement to reporters, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said that Russia’s plans to supply Syria with the S-300 systems, would lead to a “significant escalation” by Moscow, urging it to reconsider.