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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Syrian Defense Capabilities Improve

Filed under: Russia, Syria, The Middle East, U.S. Policy

Syrian Defense Capabilities Improve
  • Brig-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser discussed on Israel’s Kan Radio on April 26, 2018 the likelihood that the Russians will provide Syria with better aerial defense systems soon.
  • “It’s an attempt by Russia to salvage its image after it failed to prevent a Western attack on Syria,” said the Director of the Jerusalem Center’s Project on Regional Middle East Developments.
A Russian anti-aircraft missile launch.
A Russian anti-aircraft missile launch.

Following the American-British-French air raids on April 13, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he will be providing more military aid to Syria. The Russian defense ministry announced that new aerial defense systems will arrive in Syria soon.

In an interview with Kan Radio’s Ayala Hasson, (in Hebrew) Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the research department of IDF intelligence, stated:

“The Russians are worried about the harm done to their prestige after the western attack on Syria. This joint attack by the European countries with the United States proved that Syria is an exclusive area of aerial operation for the West, and the West is strong enough to fight in the region, while Russian efforts to prevent the attack seriously failed.”

“At the same time, Israel announced that in time of necessity, it will act in Syria in accordance with its defense needs. All of this shows the Russians as being weak and unable to provide protection for its allies. Its way of salvaging the situation is to provide Syria with aerial defenses under its protection.”

Kuperwasser added: “The new defense systems that Russia has provided to Syria are a higher level of defense capability for the Syrians that will be added to the existing defense systems in the region. If Israel wants to act in Syria, this raises the question of whether these defense systems would foil an attack. On the other hand, if the West decides to attack Syria a second time and succeeds, this says something about the strength of Russia’s defenses.”

When asked if Israel should expect an Iranian attack, Brig. Gen. Kuperwasser replied, “The Iranians are interested in reacting, but they are less busy with attacks attributed to Israel and are more involved with the things President Trump is going to do on May 12 with regard to the nuclear deal. These days, there’s a large diplomatic battle regarding which steps Trump is intending to take as he dismissed the European leaders who approached him in an attempt to change his mind about withdrawing from the nuclear agreement. Right now, it appears that the U.S. president and his staff are determined to annul or change the agreement drastically. It is possible that as part of its response to the annulment of the agreement, Iran will also decide to react against Israel. We should remember that they don’t have any interest in a general escalation, and they are deterred by the combination of Israeli and American power.”