The Russian military has now made explicit the warning news of the deployment two days ago of advanced S-300VM Antey-2500 surface to air missiles to Syria had previously made implicit.
Russia not only opposes any US plan to launch covert air strikes or cruise missile strikes against the Syrian military. Its air defence troops in Syria stand ready to intervene in the event of such strikes if they believe the lives of Russian military personnel in Syria are at risk.
The statement by Igor Konashenkov, the Russian Ministry of Defence spokesman, could not be clearer:
“Most officers of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties currently work ‘on the ground,’ delivering humanitarian aid and conducting negotiations with heads of settlements and armed groups in most Syrian provinces.
That is why any missile or air strikes on the territory under control of the Syrian government, will create an obvious threat for Russian military.
And finally, I draw attention of ‘hotheads’ that after a strike on Syrian troops in Deir ez-Sor by planes of the coalition on September 17, we have taken all necessary measures to rule out any such ‘mistakes’ against Russian military and military facilities in Syria (NB: this clearly refers to the deployment of the S-300VM Antey-2500 systems to Syria – AM).
The crews on duty will hardly have the time to calculate the missile’s flight path or try to find out their nationality. As for the laymen’s illusions about the existence of ‘invisible planes’ they may confront a disappointing reality.”
Konashenkov recalled that Russia’s bases in Khmeimim and Tartus are now protected by “numerous” S-400 and S-300 air defence systems
“……whose range of operation may prove a surprise to any unidentified flying object.”
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.