Russia’s Defense Ministry has cautioned the US-led coalition of carrying out airstrikes on Syrian army positions, adding in Syria there are numerous S-300 and S-400 air defense systems up and running.
Russia currently has S-400 and S-300 air-defense systems deployed to protect its troops stationed at the Tartus naval supply base and the Khmeimim airbase. The radius of the weapons reach may be “a surprise” to all unidentified flying objects, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson General Igor Konashenkov said.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, any airstrike or missile hitting targets in territory controlled by the Syrian government would put Russian personnel in danger.
The defense official said that members of the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria are working “on the ground” delivering aid and communicating with a large number of communities in Syria.
“Therefore, any missile or air strikes on the territory controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat to Russian servicemen.”
“Russian air defense system crews are unlikely to have time to determine in a ‘straight line’ the exact flight paths of missiles and then who the warheads belong to. And all the illusions of amateurs about the existence of ‘invisible’ jets will face a disappointing reality,” Konashenkov added.
He also noted that Syria itself has S-200 as well as BUK systems, and their technical capabilities have been updated over the past year.
The Russian Defense Ministry’s statement came in response to what it called “leaks” in the Western media alleging that Washington is considering launching airstrikes against Syrian government forces.
“Of particular concern is information that the initiators of such provocations are representatives of the CIA and the Pentagon, who in September reported to the [US] President on the alleged controllability of ‘opposition’ fighters, but today are lobbying for ‘kinetic’ scenarios in Syria,” he said.
He cautioned Washington to conduct a “thorough calculation of the possible consequences of such plans.”
US-led coalition jets bombed positions of the Syrian government forces on September 17, resulting in the deaths of 83 servicemen. Washington said the airstrike was a mistake, however Damascus claimed the incident was a “blatant aggression.”
The relocation of the S-300 system in order to protect Russian ships and the naval base in Syria was confirmed by Russian defense officials on October 4. Konashenkov assured that the S-300 is a “purely defensive system and poses no threat.” Russia also has S-400 missile defense systems at Khmeimim base that were placed there after Turkey downed a Russian SU-24 jet in November of 2015.
Konashenkov also pointedly reminded the US that the Syrian military itself possesses S-200 and BUK surface to air missile systems supplied by Russia. Though the S-200 system is now old (it dates back to the 1960s) Konashenkov warned that it had been thoroughly updated and therefore also presents a threat to US missiles and aircraft.
Konashenkov’s statement incidentally confirms that the decision to deploy S-300VM Antey-2500 systems to Syria was taken in response to the US air attack on the Syrian military defending Deir Ezzor.
The systems were apparently delivered to Syria by sea rather than air, so the decision to deploy them was made too early to have been influenced by the latest threats coming from Washington. This is consistent with Konashenkov’s claim that they were deployed in response to the US attack on the Syrian military defending Deir Ezzor.
The fact the Russians decided to deploy these systems in response to this attack incidentally shows that the Russians do not believe the US explanation that this attack was a mistake.
Though the deployment of S-300VM Antey-2500 systems to Syria was not made in response to the latest threats from Washington, Konashenkov’s warning shows that it has happened at what the Russians must think is an opportune time.
The US has essentially just been checkmated. It’s all out of options to ‘regime change’ Syria.