In a move almost certainly connected to an attack earlier this month by Israeli warplanes on the Syrian coast, an attack which led to the shootdown of a Russian plane, Russia has announced that they are going to deliver advanced S-300 air defense systems to Syria within the next two weeks.
Russia has held out the possibility of sending S-300s to Syria for years as a way to limit foreign airstrikes on Syrian military targets. This move is likely to dramatically curb Israel’s ability to carry out future attacks.
That’s clearly the point. While Russia is saying the S-300s are intended to make Russian planes safer, since they are more accurate, they are a massive upgrade to Syria’s existing S-200 systems. Russia has attributed the shoot-down of their plane to Israeli jets “hiding” behind the much larger Russian surveillance plane when they came under fire from S-200s.
The US and Israel are both objecting, as they always do when Russia raises the possibility of delivering S-300s to one of their allies. The short timetable for delivery this time, however, seems to mean this is a done deal, and Syria will soon have substantial air defense.