With reports that U.S. intelligence is trying to unleash an ISIS versus Russia war, Moscow has deployed an advanced anti-aircraft missile defense system to Syria with a range capable of reaching as far away as Israel, southern Turkey, Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean.
Russia’s military unveiled photos of the S-400 Air Defense System being stationed at the Latakia Airbase on the Syrian coast. The S-400 system, known to NATO as the SA-21 “Growler,” is an upgrade of the S-300 anti-aircraft system, which Russia has recently agreed to sell to Tehran. The Russian-developed advanced missile system is capable of shooting down an aircraft at a maximum altitude of 90,000 feet, which is more than twice the altitude at which a cruising passenger airliner usually flies.
From the Latakia Airbase, which is heavily defended by Russian forces and the Syrian army, the S-400 Air Defense System, with a maximum range of 250 miles, can reach most of Syria’s territory, southern Turkey, Cyprus, the eastern Mediterranean as well as most of Israel’s territory. Russia’s Ministry of Defense invited about 50 foreign journalists to the site where the advanced missile system is stationed to show off its latest military development.
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Russian analyst Yury Barmin wrote on Twitter: “Alleged S400 complex radar was spotted at the Russian air base in Latakia. Another ‘accidental’ leak by Russia’s MoD.”
By saying “another accidental leak,” the analyst was referring to Wednesday’s broadcast of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of the start of a nuclear arms race with the U.S., during which a secret document revealing Russia’s plans to develop a nuclear torpedo system was accidentally shown on state-owned television. After covering Putin’s announcement that Russia is developing strike systems capable of penetrating any missile defense shield, including U.S. missile defense shields, the Russian media outlet reported that the deadly nuclear weapon is designed to bypass NATO radars and all existing defense systems to hit coastal areas of the Alliance.
Deployment of S-400 in Syria is a threatening message to the U.S.
“By deploying S400 to Latakia, Russia sends signal to Turkey and Israel but also creates a shield over Syria’s coastal areas,” Barmin continued on his Twitter account.
Moreover, Russia’s advanced missile system is capable of intercepting cruise missiles and other potential airborne threats and presenting a serious threat to military aircraft such as the RAF Tornado and the U.S. Air Force F-15 and F-16. The S-400 Air Defense System is even capable of destroying the fifth-generation F-22 Raptor aircraft, according to Russian defense officials.
“Even if a plane is flying low and with the same speed as a vehicle moving on the ground, the radar will show it on the screen. For the S-400 there is no such thing as ‘stealth’ aircraft, the system will see it and will shoot it down,” a Russian missile commander told Sputnik News.
Russia’s defense ministry has said that over the past two days, Russian aircraft have carried out 85 combat sorties targeting 277 terrorist locations in Lattakia, Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Idib provinces. In Homs, Russia’s Su-24M bomber attacked an ISIS armored convoy, destroying two infantry fighting vehicles and three tanks. U.S. officials view the deployment of the S-400 Air Defense System as a threatening escalation of Russia’s air-defense capabilities in the Middle East. Explaining Russia’s stepped up air-defense capabilities in the Middle East, Russian foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Washington of efforts to bring regime change in Syria and other areas.
“Russia’s steps in the sphere of boosting defense are largely caused by the US activity, including the American nuclear potential improvement, deployment of the global missile defense system with a view to upsetting the strategic parity and bringing NATO infrastructure closer to Russian borders,” Zakharova told ITAR-TASS. “We cannot remain indifferent to this or ignore the attempts to undermine our security.”
Saturday peace talks on Syria: Russia’s plan leaked
This is something similar to what Vladimir Putin recently said when announcing the nuclear weapons race with the U.S.
“And the U.S. true goals are to neutralize the strategic nuclear potential of other nuclear states, except the United States and its allies, first of all, the nuclear potential of our country, Russia. Hence the desire to get decisive supremacy with all ensuing consequences,” Putin said on Wednesday.
The Russian President also assured the U.S. that Russia will “take all necessary measures” to beef up the potential of its strategic nuclear forces.
A day before peace talks on Syria are to be held in Vienna on Nov. 14, Russia’s plan was leaked and is now circulating at the UN. According to UN officials familiar with the leaked document, it contains “some indication of flexibility.” Russia’s leaked plan urges to establish a new constitution in the next 18 months, to organize a referendum and then presidential elections. However, the plan has no mention of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad being removed from power in the interim, which is a key demand of the U.S.-backed opposition.
UN officials agree that presidential elections in Syria will be difficult to organize after four and a half years of bloodshed and 250,000 lives lost in that period. Furthermore, Assad is not eager to loosen his grip on power, but if he stays in power, the chances that the civil war will end are extremely low. In this case, Russia can either put an end to the ongoing war or unleash an all-out war with the U.S. and its allies.
Both scenarios can be achieved by Russia stepping up its airstrike campaign in Syria, in which it has predominantly targeted U.S.-backed rebel groups. According to U.S. intelligence, 85% of Russian airstrikes have targeted Syrian rebels so far.