Commentary by Vince Dhimos
The day after the Kommersant report on Russia’s decision to send the S-300 system to the Syrian army, New Silk Strategies posted a full-text translation of the report. Russia’s decision was reported a day later by various sources, including Zero Hedge, but we believe our translation was the only one posted anywhere at that time (please let us know if we are mistaken). We normally do not post any translations that have been performed and posted elsewhere (we don’t like redundancy), and these unique translations from strategically important languages are one good reason, out of several, to bookmark our site and visit us regularly.
In view of the missile attack on Syria by 3 Western nations on the grounds of a “chemical attack” story that was rejected by an unprecedentedly high percentage of Western news consumers, it became clear to Russia that what Syria desperately needed to defend its infrastructure and citizens was a higher-performance air defence system – the S-300 at least, if not the later model S-400.
Russia’s own bases at Tartus and Latakia, respectively, have long been protected by S-300 and S-400s, and as a result, none of the illegal invaders dared to attack those bases.
In 2010, Russia had entered into a contract with Syria for the purchase of the S-300 system, but Israel had complained to Russia that it felt unsafe to have these systems in its backyard. So Russia held off on performing the contract. But Israel turned out not to be a good-faith partner. Recently, over a period of one year, according to Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, the outgoing commander of the Israel Air Force, as cited by Haaretz, Israel has fired its missiles into Syria at least 100 time without provocation, harming Russia’s 2 partners Syria and Iran. “When Israel has a vested interest, it acts irrespective of the risks,” said the commander. But with the powerful US military as a backstop, Israel certainly considered that the risk was not that great.
These attacks were always done on the grounds that the Iranians were “too close” to the Israeli border. Yet, there was no basis in international law to attack a sovereign country regardless of what foreign states had sent their military to defend it. Further, the target was always Iranian personnel and installations in Syria, which Israel knew were there to help Syria fight terrorists. Thus, during 7 years of forbearance on Russia’s part, Israel had ignored Russia’s interests and concerns, simply riding roughshod over the country that Putin had pledged to defend.
Now with the S-300s scheduled for deployment around key areas, Russia has warned Israel that to attack a Syrian military facility would have “catastrophic consequences.” Israel and the Western powers can now be expected to respect Syrian facilities just as they have respected the Russian ones – for the same reasons.
A milestone has been reached.
Over all 7 of these years when Russia was providing military aid to keep terrorists from tearing Syria apart, Putin had never issued a public statement to Israel to keep hands off Syria. However, in his last speech and presentation before the Russian General Assembly of the Duma, Putin had shown the world, including Netanyahu, that he had the military means to destroy any foe. Further, he had in several phone calls no doubt warned Israel to be careful. Yet as late as April 9, 2018, Israel still dared to defy Putin and fired missiles at Syria’s T-4 base. Further, the Tomahawk attack on Syrian laboratories by the US, UK and France may have given Israel renewed courage. But it was this defiance on the part of the three allies and Israel combined that prompted Russia to make the difficult decision to deliver the S-300s in compliance with the old contract, perhaps in the realization that the public would now support this move.
As Russian military analyst Sergey Chernyakhovsky assessed in his analysis posted at New Silk Strategies, referring to the US (but also by extension, its allies):
“The implementation of the political line they have developed can be halted only by forcing them to reconsider the adopted setting. And one can accomplish this only by creating a force majeure situation.”
The next step in this force majeure is the delivery and installation of superior Russian air defences to Syria, as detailed in our translation from Kommersant.