Russia to supply S-300 air defense system to Syria

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Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov speaks to the media next to a graphic of an incident in which a Russian warplane was shot down by a Syrian air defense unit last week. Photo: Grab from video released by Defense Ministry / Sputnik /AFP

 

The move comes despite opposition from Israel, which carries out regular airstrikes against Hezbollah in Syria

Syria’s armed forces, long dependent on outdated S-200 air defenses, will now receive the modern S-300 system, Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu announced on Monday.

Russia’s decision comes one week after its Syrian allies, responding to an Israeli air raid on the coastal province of Latakia, mistakenly targeted a Russian Ilyushin-20 plane, killing the 15 military personnel on board. Continue reading

A Russian spy plane with 14 aboard missing. Moscow cites Israeli fighters, French frigate in Latakia missile strikes

 

Hours after a missile attack on Syrian and Iranian military targets in Latakia Monday night, the Russian Defense Ministry said that a military Il-20 spy plane with 14 aboard went off the radars. It was 35km off the Syrian coast when its air base air traffic control “lost contact.”

No word has come from Israel on the incident. Some Syrian and Russian sources earlier reported that unidentified missiles had struck a military industry facility which develops missiles and chemical weapons, very close to Russian assets. Other sources reported that Iranian forces had set up a base close to the Russian assets for protection against Israeli attack. Continue reading

U.S., allies scramble jets almost daily to repel Russian incursions

Russian military provocations have increased so much over the seven months since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine that Washington and its allies are scrambling defense assets on a nearly daily basis in response to air, sea and land incursions by Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Not only is Moscow continuing to foment unrest in Eastern Ukraine, U.S. officials and regional security experts say Russian fighter jets are testing U.S. reaction times over Alaska and Japan’s ability to scramble planes over its northern islands — all while haunting Sweden’s navy and antagonizing Estonia’s tiny national security force.

The White House months ago leveled economic sanctions on several Russian businesses and political players, and recent weeks have seen President Obama intensify his rhetoric toward Moscow. But many in Washington’s national security community say the response is simply not firm enough and that, as a result, Mr. Putin actually feels emboldened to push the envelope — Cold War-style.

“What’s going on is a radical escalation of aggressive Russian muscle flexing and posturing designed to demonstrate that Russia is no longer a defeated power of the Cold War era,” says Ariel Cohen, who heads the Center for Energy, National Resources and Geopolitics at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Washington.

“The more we retreat, the more we are encouraging Russia to behave in a more aggressive way,” Mr. Cohen said. “We need to be engaging more deeply with our Central Asian allies, but instead we are in the process of abandoning turf to Russia, and it’s wrong — it’s against our interests geopolitically to let Russia feel that they all of a sudden have won all the turf without firing a shot.” Continue reading

NATO intercepts Russian jets over Baltic Sea as Sweden continues search for a suspected damaged submarine

NATO scrambled fighter jets twice in two days to intercept Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea, amid reports that Russian military activity in the region is increasing.

Lt. Col. Robert Gericke said the Russian aircraft were flying in international airspace and had not violated the territory of alliance members.

Two Canadian F-18 Hornet jets were scrambled from the Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania on Monday to intercept a Russian Ilyushin-20 surveillance aircraft, which they shadowed for some 15 minutes, NATO said. Continue reading