Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Russia restricts the strongest air force in the Middle East - Haaretz

October 25, 2016 (UATODAY) One of Israel's leading media experts on military and defense issues Amos Harel in his article for Haaretz analyzed Putin's gains and losses in Middle East. 
Over the past few weeks, Russia has finished beefing up its aerial defenses in northern Syria. The Washington Post, after interviewing American experts, published a map last week showing the estimated radius of coverage of Russia's S-300 and S-400 systems, which are bolstered by anti-aircraft missiles on ships in the port of Tartus. The 380-kilometer radius covers Lebanon, much of Turkey and Jordan, the eastern Mediterranean until out beyond Cyprus, a bit of Iraq, and Israel all the way to the northern Negev.

The paper said the Pentagon isn't sure whether, if necessary, it could penetrate these aerial defense systems, since the question hasn't yet arisen. Presumably, America has electronic warfare systems capable of disrupting even dense anti-aircraft coverage. But the Post said Russia's coverage limits Washington's ability not only to launch air strikes on Syrian military targets, but also to create no-fly zones to protect civilians, an idea both U.S. presidential candidates say they support.
Russia's beefed-up deployment also affects Israel, which, according to foreign media reports, has launched numerous air strikes on arms convoys from Syria to Hezbollah in recent years. Based on the Washington Post's map, an Israeli plane couldn't take off from Tel Nof airbase without being tagged by Russian radar.
The limitations aren't just military, but also diplomatic. Israel and Russia have set up a mechanism to prevent clashes in Syrian airspace, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin four times over the last year to further that purpose.
Having no other choice, Netanyahu has nurtured his Russian romance. But in reality, this romance is about as romantic as Donald Trump's groping of women. It's a romance to which Israel was forced to consent once the Russian bear decided to move into its backyard.
Russia apparently reinforced its aerial defenses in response to American condemnations of its bombing of Aleppo, and due to concern, apparently unwarranted, that the Obama administration might actually take military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Though Russia's economy is crumbling, Putin keeps pushing the envelope, including with frequent hints about the danger of nuclear war, attempts to sabotage the U.S. presidential election and surprising moves in the Mideast, like this month's announcement that Russia and Egypt will hold a joint military exercise. The full article is available at