As we seem to be inching ever closer to World War 3, heated rhetoric and threats between nations are becoming everyday occurrences. Israel has threatened to strike Russian systems in Syria after it was threatened with “catastrophic consequences” if it does.
Russia will send advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Bashar al-Assad, officials said Monday, warning Israel not to attack the new air defense systems or suffer “catastrophic consequences.” But Israel, in turn, threatened to strike those very systems anyway. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that Israel may strike the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft defense systems in Syria if they are used against Israel, according to Haaretz.
As of now, all of the threats appear to be nothing more than heated rhetoric as neither side has made a move to actually strike the other. “One thing should be clear – if someone fires on our planes, we will destroy them,” Lieberman said in an interview with the Israeli website Ynet. “What’s important to us is that the weapons defense systems that the Russians transfer to Syria are not used against us. If they are used against us, we will act against them.”
Lieberman’s comments come a day after senior Russian officials told the Kommersant newspaper that Russia is expected to provide Assad’s government with S-300 anti-aircraft defense systems very soon. If Israel attacks the new air defense systems, then it will suffer “catastrophic consequences,” the officials said. The S-300 PMU-2 “Favorite” version of the anti-aircraft systems will be provided to the Syrians for free and very soon, the Kommersant reported.
Lieberman also said that the S-300 are already being operated on Syrian soil, though they are only being used by the Russians and not being employed against Israel. Yet he still found it necessary to make the threats to strike. Lieberman added that Israel will not allow an Iranian foothold in Syria, saying that this is the principle guiding Israel. “If someone fires on us, we will respond. Let there be no doubt, it doesn’t matter what system – S-300, S-700 or something else.”
Russian air defense systems have, in fact, been deployed in Syria for years. Syria’s air defenses are Russian made, and Israel has struck them several times since the downing of its F-16 jet in February. The Wall Street Journal revealed that Israeli military targeted a Russian-made Tor advanced air-defense system after Iran deployed it to the T4 base in Syria earlier this month. In addition, Russia has deployed their own S-400 systems to protect its soldiers deployed in Latakia.