With tensions between Russia and the United States rising precipitously in recent days, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is warning the US away from the possibility of launching “carpet bombing” attacks against military sites within Syria, saying Russia air defense systems in the country are ready to protect Russian assets there.
Lavrov warned the US is playing a “very dangerous game” in discussing such attacks. While the State Department has only referred to such operations as “non-diplomatic options,” they have repeatedly insisted the administration is discussing that option irrespective of Russia’s ability to defense Syrian airspace.
There have been long-standing calls from some in the administration to start attacking Syrian military targets, or even to put the war against ISIS on hold to shift focus to a war of regime change. Russia’s substantial presence in Syria had been a deterrent to such action, but hawks are now presenting the possibility that US attacks on Syrian bases would kill Russian troops as just a perk.
Russia made a big deal this past week of deployment advanced S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Syria, which as a practical matter gives them the ability to quickly and accurately target US warplanes in Syrian airspace if this becomes an overt battle.
Though US officials have insisted the S-300 wouldn’t necessarily deter the US from acting militarily, it would be far more reckless to launch such attacks now, knowing that Russia has already made preparations which necessarily would mean the loss of a substantial number of US aircraft in such an action.