S-300 missile system: Russian Federation to improve Syrian air defences

23 2006 shows an Russian Il-20M plane landing at an unknown location

23 2006 shows an Russian Il-20M plane landing at an unknown location

"Since the tragic events in the Syrian skies, I have spoken twice with President Putin, expressing deep sorrow about the loss of lives of the Russian Federation crew on the plane, that was irresponsibly shot down by Syrian fire", Netanyahu said.

"The Israeli crews, who knew perfectly well the situation in the air, found cover behind the Russian airplane, which led to its destruction and the deaths of 15 members of the service", the defense minister said on Monday. One former military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that USA pilots had several incidents over the years where Syrian systems would launch missiles as they were flying overhead, but nothing came close to hitting a US jet.

He added that Israel would "continue to defend its security and its interests", implying that it would not be deterred from continuing to attack Iranian-affiliated targets, including advanced weapons destined for Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed movement in Lebanon, for possible future use against Israel.

In May 1949 Moscow votes in favour of Israel's admission to the United Nations.

Israel and Russian Federation have a so-called "deconfliction mechanism" operated over the past years to avoid firing on each other forces in Syria. "In regions near Syria over the Mediterranean Sea, there will be radio-electronic suppression of satellite navigation, onboard radar systems and communication systems of military aviation attacking objects on Syrian territory".

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"I will underscore - at the request of the Israeli side, in 2013 we suspended the delivery of S-300 systems that were ready for the dispatch, while the Syrian military had undergone training".

But Russia, whose plane was shot down by Syrian air defenses after an Israeli strike and strongly criticized Israel over it, has since announced it plans to send an advanced S-300 air defense system to the Syrian military.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's office explicitly linked the Russian decision to supply the weapons to the air crash: "President Putin held Israel responsible for bring down the plane and informed President Assad that Russia will develop Syria's air defence systems", the Syrian presidency said.

Russian Federation had also promised to keep pro-Iranian militias away from Syria's border with Israel and froze a planned delivery of an S-300 long-range air defense system to the Syrian armed forces.

Russia, which entered the course of the war to back the Syrian army in 2015, has two Russian-run bases in Syria, the first is an air base in Hmeimim in Latakia countryside and the other is a naval base in the Tartus city near Latakia. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that recent findings by the Russian military showed an Israeli jet "deliberately" pushed the Russian Il-20 into the line of fire, enabling its downing.

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In the words of Vladimir Ermakov, director of the department for nonproliferation and arms control of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the anti-air defense system would be able to close Syrian airspace "where necessary". Moscow has tried to maintain good relations with Iran, which is also allied with the Syrian government, and Israel, which is wary of Iran's growing influence in Syria.

The Russians also claimed the IAF warplanes stayed for another fifty minutes in the airspace off-coast in Syria where they were patrolling the skies while one of the F-16's suddenly approached the IL-20, which was preparing to land at Khmeimim, and by doing so ducked an incoming S-200 missile.

Nonetheless, Abboud believes that the move by Russian Federation has sent a message to Israel that its intervention in Syria needs to be limited.

A senior diplomat said: "There is no change to the deconfliction mechanism, and the standard operating procedures remain in force as they were before".

But Israel sees the stakes as too high to accept severe limitations on its actions against Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, some analysts said.

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