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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 25-Sep-2018
25-Sep-18 World View -- Russia will supply S-300 systems to Syria, and jam Israeli communications

Web Log - September, 2018

25-Sep-18 World View -- Russia will supply S-300 systems to Syria, and jam Israeli communications

Russia blames Israel when Syria shoots down Russian plan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Russia blames Israel when Syria shoots down Russian plan

S-300 anti-aircraft missile launchers (RT)
S-300 anti-aircraft missile launchers (RT)

The Israeli security cabinet will meet in urgent session on Tuesday over the crisis in relations between Israel and Russia, a day after Russia officially blamed Israel because Syrian surface to air missiles shot down a Russian reconnaissance plane on September 17, killing all 15 Russians onboard.

On September 17, Israeli F-16 warplanes were carrying out airstrikes in Syria to prevent Iran from deploying advanced weapons that the Syrian regime or Lebanon's Hezbollah could use to strike Israel. Earlier this month, an Israeli official admitted that Israel had carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years.

The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad attempted to use an an S-200 anti-aircraft missile battery, previously supplied by the Russians, to shoot down the Israeli warplanes, but instead shot down a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 (IL-20) reconnaissance plane, killing all 15 Russian service members onboard.

Shortly after the incident occurred, Russia's president Vladimir Putin said that the shootdown was caused by a "series of tragic mistakes."

But on Sunday, Russia's Defense Ministry said:

"Objective data says that the actions of Israeli pilots, which led to the death of 15 Russian military personnel, point to either lack of professionalism or criminal negligence. This is why we believe that the Russian Il-20 aircraft tragedy is solely the fault of the Israeli Air Force and those who made decisions concerning such actions. ...

This is an extremely ungrateful response to all that Russia has done for Israel and the Israeli people recently."

The Russians describe how extremely clever and tricky Israeli pilots flew into the region and out again, tricking the hapless Syrians into shooting the Russian reconnaissance plane before they even knew what they were doing. The Foreign Ministry continued:

"The Israeli pilot could not but understand that since the Il-20 aircraft has a far larger radar cross-section compared to an F-16 jet, it would be a preferred target for air defenses. [Israel is aware that] Russian and Syrian militaries use different friend or foe identification systems so Syrian radars could have identified the Il-20 as a group of Israeli fighter jets."

So, in other words, the Syrians couldn't identify Russian planes using friend or foe identification systems, and Syrian radar operators couldn't tell the difference between a Russian IL-20 reconnaissance plane and an Israeli F-16 warplane, even though the F-16 is one-third as big as the IL-20. So the Syrians shot down the Russian plane, and therefore, the shootdown was "solely the fault of the Israeli Air Force." Those Israeli pilots were pretty clever, weren't they?

Even some Russian commentators are saying that the Russian explanation is ridiculous, and that the fault is with the total incompetence of the Syrians. According to sarcastic commentaries in the the liberal Russian media Echo Moskvy:

"How could the Syrian air defense, upon seeing on their radars a large IL-20 coming to a low speed landing, release the S-200 on a small Israeli Air Force fighter, who was in same air space sector?! Are there brainless ‘dummies’ sitting behind the radars?"

"We always blame someone else. Anyone but us. [The Boeing MH17 passenger plane] was hit by Ukraine, the British themselves poisoned the Skripals, White Helmets poured chlorine on the Syrian insurgents, sanctions were imposed by Russophobes, doping was planted by other Russophobes. ...

With whom have we not yet quarreled? Who else is still not to blame for all our troubles? Israel - it is now on the line. Let's go after the Jews! Moreover, our people have long suspected that the true culprits of all misfortunes are the Jews and the Masons who joined them."

A growing number of Russians are opposing Russia's involvement in the war in Syria, and so Putin cannot afford to admit that it was the incompetence of the Syrian military and the Russian military that led to the deaths of the 15 Russian soldiers. Tass (Moscow, 23-Sep) and Reuters (4-Sep) and The Hill and Echo Moskvy (Trans)

Russia will supply S-300 systems to Syria, and jam Israeli communications

After saying that Syria shooting down a Russian plane was "solely the fault of the Israeli Air Force", Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Mondayk that advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems will be supplied to Syria within two weeks. According to Shoigu:

"The S-300 is capable of intercepting air threats at a range of more than 250 kilometers and simultaneously hitting several aerial targets. Russia will also jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aircraft, which attack targets in the Syrian territory, in the regions over the waters of the Mediterranean Sea bordering with Syria."

This announcement has alarmed Israel's government. Israel's president Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday initiated a phone conversation with Putin to attempt to reverse the decision. However, Putin rejected the plea, saying that "Russia’s decisions to strengthen combat capacities of Syrian air defense meet the current situation and are geared, first of all, to avert any potential threat to the lives of Russian servicemen who are fighting against international terrorism."

National Security Advisor John Bolton called the decision “a significant escalation” of the seven-year war, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he expected to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss the matter.

The S-300 systems could potentially be a game-changer in the potential conflict between Iran and Israel. Israel has sought for years to convince the Russians not to supply S-300s to the Syrians or the Iranians, and Russia has cooperated with the Israelis to the extent of permitting them to conduct airstrikes against Iranian assets in Syria which could threaten Israel.

But right now it looks like that cooperation may be changing. The S-300 missiles, combined with jamming of electronic communications, will make it easier for Iran to deploy weapons in Syria or Lebanon that could be used by the Iranians or Hezbollah to attack Israel.

Israel does not have the capability to defeat Russia's electronic jamming technology, but some reports indicate that the US does, and Israel may request aid from the US. Reuters and Debka (Israel) and Tass (Moscow) and Al-Jazeera

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John J. Xenakis is author of the book, Iran's Struggle for Supremacy: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East, available on Amazon for $5 for the digital version or $7 for the paperback version.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Sep-18 World View -- Russia will supply S-300 systems to Syria, and jam Israeli communications thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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