Russian Federation missile sale to Syria is ‘significant escalation’: John Bolton

Mike Pompeo

The announcement came after Syria, which now uses the Soviet-era S-200 system, inadvertently shot down a Russian military plane on September 17.

Russia announced earlier Monday that it would give Syria's government more modern, S-300 missile defense systems after last week's downing of a Russian plane by Syria in a friendly fire incident.

Monday's statement from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia will send the newer S-300 missile defense systems to Syria within the next two weeks.

Syrian military members had already been trained to use the more advanced system, which was originally set to be sent over in 2013 but was held up "at the request of Israel", Shoigu said.

They also said radar and communication systems will be added near Syria to monitor potential attacks.

The Russian Il-20 military reconnaissance aircraft was downed by Syrian air defences that mistook it for an Israeli aircraft, killing all 15 people on board. "We're confident that these measures will cool "hot heads" and prevent thoughtless moves that threaten our servicemen", he said.

President Vladimir Putin took a softer approach, saying last week that the shoot-down appeared to be the result of a "chain of tragic accidental circumstances".

Russian Federation last month hinted it would supply the weapons to President Bashar al-Assad, over Israeli objections, after Western military strikes on Syria.

An official report from Moscow has laid the blame squarely at Israel's feet, however, raising the prospect that Russian Federation will close Syrian airspace to Israeli aircraft.

"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", President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Shortly after Moscow's announcement, Assad's office said he received a call from Vladimir Putin and that the two discussed the latest developments, including the Idlib deal and the delivery of S-300s. The supply of S-300s to Syria will "calm down some hotheads" whose actions "pose a threat to our troops", he said. The Russian IL-20 found itself, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence, caught in the crossfire.

Much of Syria's air-defense network has been provided by Russian Federation but consists of weapons that are older and less effective than the S-300.

Russian antiicraft missile systems - the S-300, right, and the S-400 - on display at a military industrial exhibition in Zhukovsky, in the Moscow region, on August 14, 2014.

However, an Ilyushin Il-76MD plane of the Russian Air Force 223rd Flight Unit was spotted flying from Russian Air Force base in Mozdok, Ossetia to the Russian base in Humaymim, Latakia through Turkish airspace.



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