At a time of increasing tensions between Russia and the United States, army bosses have sad that they will shoot down U.S. warplanes in Syria.
As both nations continue to operate in war torn Syria, Russian army chiefs made a stark warning to the U.S.-led coalition. They maintain that the capabilities of Russian anti-aircraft weapons systems could come as “a surprise” to any unidentified aircraft operating in the area, writes Keyan Milanian for The Mirror.
U.S. planes could be hit by Russian air defense systems
A U.S.-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria, where Russian troops are assisting President Bashar al-Assad in his fight to regain control of the country. Now Russia has ordered coalition planes not to strike Syrian army positions because sophisticated S-300 and S-400 air defense systems are now online.
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The high-tech missile defense systems were deployed following an order from President Vladimir Putin. They are meant to protect Russian troops from the Russian Reconciliation Center who are “on the ground” in Syria delivering aid.
“Therefore, any missile or air strikes on the territory controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat to Russian servicemen,” said Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson General Igor Konashenkov. “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.”
Coalition ordered not to attack Syrian government forces
Konashenkov then went on to poke fun at technology used by coalition forces. “And all the illusions of amateurs about the existence of ‘invisible’ jets will face a disappointing reality,” he said in reference to stealth warplanes.
The Russian general later added that air defense systems used by the Syrian government had also been heavily upgraded in the past few months. Russia spoke out on the matter after so-called “leaks” which suggested that the U.S. may carry out airstrikes on Syrian 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,” said General Konashenkov.
According to Russia Today, coalition airstrikes killed 83 servicemen after a bombing raid on government positions last month. While officials in Washington claim that the strike was made in error, the Syrian government called it “blatant aggression.”
U.S. and Russia lock horns in Syria and elsewhere
The ongoing conflict in Syria is just one source of tension between the U.S. and Russia. Officials have also sparred over Russian actions in Ukraine and nuclear treaties.
Things have deteriorated to such an extent that Russian media sources are publishing warnings about nuclear war.
“Schizophrenics from America are sharpening nuclear weapons for Moscow,” ran a headline on Zvezda, the defence ministry TV channel. It later went on to argue that the U.S. wanted to castigate Russia for its actions in the Middle East.
Preparations for nuclear war are underway throughout the country, and authorities have built underground shelters capable of housing all 12 million people that live in Moscow. The threat of war between the two countries has never been more apparent at any time since the Cold War.
Both nations hold stockpiles of nuclear weapons that run into their thousands. Increasingly aggressive rhetoric has been building in Russia as the country becomes more militarized under Putin.
Nuclear war a terrifying possibility
Dmitry Kiselyov, head of state news agency Rossiya Segodnya, recently boasted that Russia was capable of reducing the U.S. to “radioactive ash.” While these kinds of comments may be intended to remain in the domestic media, there are worries that Putin is surrounded by increasingly hawkish aides and advisers.
Over the course of his latest presidential term, Putin has brought back large-scale military parades in Moscow and state media has started praising the armed forces once again. The Kremlin has repeatedly accused Washington of making veiled threats about nuclear war, and promised retaliatory measures.
There have also been other signs that relations are worsening. One is the suspension of an agreement on the disposal of excess weapons-grade plutonium.
Russia suspended the deal after claiming that the U.S. had created “a threat to strategic stability, as a result of unfriendly actions.” Under the terms of the deal both countries are meant to destroy 34 tons of plutonium each, which is enough to make 17,000 nuclear weapons.
It is part of efforts to reduce nuclear stockpiles, but Russia’s withdrawal provides evidence of deteriorating relations with the United States. Syria is just one area of tensions between the two nations, but it could prove to be an incredibly important one.