News / Middle East

Russian Missile Plan Chills Chances for Syrian No-Fly Zone

Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (file photo)Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (file photo)
x
Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (file photo)
Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (file photo)
Analysts say it will be more difficult for the United States or other Western powers to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria if Russia goes ahead with the sale of anti-aircraft missiles to its ally Damascus.

Moscow said this week it plans to deliver the advanced S-300 air defense system to the embattled government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite objections by the U.S., France and Israel.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday the transfer will be a "stabilizing factor" and will deter what he called "some hotheads" from considering sending foreign forces to intervene in the Syrian conflict.

The surface-to-air missiles would represent a major upgrade over Syria's current air defenses and could challenge Western aircraft, said Ben MacQueen, a Middle East analyst at Australia's Monash University.

"The S-300 has the capacity to knock down cruise missiles as well as high-altitude planes," he said. "So the possession of the S-300 certainly does pose greater difficulties to a no-fly zone."

"It's not something that's likely to be a game changer in technical terms. If there were still a decision made to go ahead with a full-scale intervention, it's nothing that would repel those forces, but it changes the cost-benefit analysis for any sort of international coalition," said MacQueen.

The Obama administration has been reluctant to directly intervene in Syria. But some top U.S. lawmakers have been urging the White House to consider a no-fly zone to stop Syrian armed forces from carrying out air attacks that have killed a large number of both rebels and civilians during the over two-year-old conflict.

Russian officials are worried that a Western-imposed no-fly zone would end up like the one put in place by NATO over Libya in 2011, when longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown with the support of foreign air power.

"NATO went well beyond that mandate, essentially becoming the air force for the rebel army," said University of San Francisco Middle East Studies professor Stephen Zunes. "And [the Russians] don't want to see a repeat of that. They don't want to see Western powers trying to impose their will on what has historically been allied with the Russians."

But some say the S-300 itself would not necessarily make the U.S. more reluctant to intervene. Even if Moscow goes ahead with the long-delayed sale, it could take up to two years before Syrian forces are able to effectively use the advanced Russian missile system, according to Middle East analyst Jonathan Adelman of the University of Denver.

"The Syrians don't know how to operate the S-300, and there's no way they're going to learn how to do it in an area as chaotic as Syria. So they're going to have to go to Moscow," he said. "Then they've got to bring it back and try and secure a place, because it's going to be immediately a tremendous focus of attention for the rebels and for the jihadists."

Another issue to consider, said Adelman, is whether Israel would intervene to stop the transfer of the S-300, which could challenge the dominance of Israeli air power in the region. It could also provide cover for the Syrian government to transfer weapons to the pro-Assad Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Israel's defense minister on Tuesday hinted at military action if the missiles are delivered.

"I hope they will not leave. And if, God forbid, they reach Syria, we will know what to do," said Moshe Yaalon.

Adelman said he has little doubt that Israel would take out the Russian missile system if it felt threatened.

"It's way up in the air whether this [system] is every going get there. If it gets there, is it ever going to get functional or is it going to get taken out by the Israelis or by forces on the ground? So I would argue that it's quite a destabilizing thing," he said.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Igor from: Russia
May 30, 2013 11:49 PM
The S300 is only used for defensive purposes. It is not for attacking any countries. Further more, only skillfull and well-trained experts can operate the system. So if it fell into the hands of any group like Hezbollah, they could do nothing with it. That's why Israel have nothing to worry about the transference of such system. Israel has not a single right to attack Syria only because it suspects that Syria is delivering some kind of weapon to Hezbollah. It is an absulutely absurd excuse. If our country applied the same excuse we could flatten Israel with nuclear attacks becase it posed a threat to your weapon markets.

In Response

by: Joe from: Texas
May 31, 2013 2:30 PM
Well said Igor. I don't understand when someone says dont do this because this is what they will do with the weapons. This is madness but it is okay to continue violating a countries sovereignty??? Absolutely crazy....we need a stabilizing force in the world. we need 3 super powers to keep things in check and maybe more


by: Cambodian & Aussie Victim from: Australia
May 30, 2013 5:22 AM
I hope Russians should help Syria current Government to defence NATO and the United State of America as they trouble maker


by: Proxy
May 29, 2013 12:09 PM
Russia wants to escalate the military threat in the region using Syria as its proxy against the West, perhaps to gain more influence in the region and control the straits of Hormuz, thereby controlling oil supplies amongst other things but at the same time to with a view to establish friendly ports for its submarine fleet.

In Response

by: Cody from: Florida
May 30, 2013 12:21 AM
Prxy your a fool. How can Russia possibly escalate things in the region when its sending s-300 missles. The Free Syrian army doesn't have an airforce those missles could be used against.

If anything russia is keeping the peace while foreign countries want to jump in and escalate things


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 29, 2013 8:54 AM
Quite destabilizing, you can say. Since experience is the best teacher, the Russians won't want a repeat of Libya. And even though Israel is threatening, I don't see it going to aggravate an already bad situation - that is to unite the muslim world against itself - for that would rather favor Iran, hamas and hezbollah than do Israel any good.

For sure there's no way a power like Russia is going to allow its defense system enter hezbollah's hand, but that is not to say the West is encouraged to go ahead with its planned no-fly-zone. For if Russia is serious with its relations to Syria, it will have to deploy the defense system with appropriate personnel to teach the Syrian army on ground while it is put into use. That way, the west may be coming head-on with Russia in real combat situation.

Do you envisage another global war possibility? Not likely. But a confrontation with Russia has been overdue - at least by Russia's reckoning. So who stands to gain or lose by this? What about the political solution on the table?

In Response

by: joe from: texas
May 31, 2013 2:34 PM
"sheik rattle and roll"

Have you been living in the mountains? you talk about russian weapons in the hands of terrorists but you don't talk about US weapons in the hands of the taliban and now those threatening mali

In Response

by: Sheik Rattle & Roll from: Planet Earth
May 29, 2013 9:59 AM
The last time I checked most weapons systems that are in use by Hezbollah are Russian made arms transferred by Syria. The missiles that are aimed at Israeli cities are Russian made. Russia has no control of it's arms when they leave Russian ports. Most terrorist use Russian made arms. Hezbollah is nothing but an Islamic terrorist group that is supported by Iran, Syria and lately Russia.


by: ema from: uk
May 29, 2013 8:36 AM
The EU dare not supply weapons falling without falling into the wrong hands. Russia’s dare not supply air to air missiles without causing rapid spread and escalation of violence.

Britain and France can definitively shift the balance against Assad; however the real question remains if they can ensure victory does not devolve into extremism.

Russia is already heavily supporting Assad, and the threat of missiles demonstrates its sheer desperation. It is clear to even the most simple minded that it would cause rapid escalation and leave no option but to enforce a no fly zone.

In Response

by: taruk from: usa
May 29, 2013 9:09 AM
Current events are best understood through history. Does anybody remember West misadventure in Caucasus. McCain twisted Israel elbow to supply advanced weaponry to Georgians. Well, weapons do not make worriers. Georgians tossed them and run like chickens, when they encounter russian troops. But russians have a very long memory and now the shoe is on the other foot. It is fascinating that McCain is leading the charge again. Please somebody tell him that Vietnam War is over.


by: riano baggy from: indonesia
May 29, 2013 7:41 AM
please make calm down, i think moscow and aliens must sit together not to sent a weapons to syria, we not like a new wall like berlin wall. Let UN and Arab League and syrian goverment and oposision have conference to get new solution.


by: Andrey from: Russia
May 29, 2013 6:24 AM
We will make missiles like sausages!


by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
May 29, 2013 5:52 AM
russia wants syria to end up being partitioned...and its all because of their blindness to see that the assads sect always controlling the couintry and government.

lulasa...the president


by: Lex from: Seattle
May 29, 2013 5:22 AM
I would love to see Israel strike a Russian convoy delivering these systems. It will be the end of Israel as we know it, and the middle east can finally move on with their lives.

Its one thing to threaten Iran, but threatening Russia typically ends bad according to recent history; well history in general. What's US going to do? Go extinct at the expense of the Israeli alliance?

In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 29, 2013 9:04 AM
Hey, Lex! You must be fooling. Israel is not going to strike Russian convoy. Israel will strike Syrian site, that way Russia has no direct involvement but will rather love it because their market will only be expanding. But if you're looking for a superpower to fight with Israel to give you what you want, then wake up from your sleep - it's not going to happen - for even Russian is green with envy to take over protection of Israel from USA. That fags you? Check your history and don't just presume on some extremist Russian muslims to think Russia wants a war with Israel.

In Response

by: Jim from: Ohio
May 29, 2013 8:26 AM
Think of the money we would save when these leeches were gone! We might actually be able to afford to upgrade our aging infrastructure, and care for our aging population.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid