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

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs