In response to the high-profile US announcement that they are suspending all discussions with Russia related to Syria, and that moreover they are considering “military and other options,” Russia is adding to their defensive systems in the country in the form of new S-300 missile systems.
The S-300 is an advanced anti-aircraft system, which is being deployed in the area near the Russian naval base at Tartus. Russian Defense Ministry officials say it is intended to ensure the safety of the base, and that they are “unclear” why the US and its allies are expressing such alarm.
Indeed, while the US has been complaining about Russian airstrikes against the Nusra Front, this deployment would seemingly be irrelevant to Russia’s air war, since neither Nusra nor any other rebel group has any warplanes. The sole use of such a deployment is as a hedge against the US-led coalition attacking the Russian naval base.
Which ought to be unthinkable. Despite the US constantly talking up “military and other options,” it seems profoundly unreasonable to think that the US would start an overt shooting war with Russia over the fate of al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
That Russia is making that deployment at all suggests they think it’s at least a possibility they need to be prepared to counter, while the US reaction suggests that they feel as though they’re really losing a strategic option with Russia shoring up the defenses around this base.