Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss ways to stabilize the Middle East and to halt the shipment of Russian-made S-300 missiles to the Syrian army, despite reports that they had already been delivered.
During their meeting Tuesday, Netanyahu told Putin: “The region around us is tumultuous, rough, unstable and volatile, therefore I am pleased with the opportunity to consider together way to stabilize the region and bring about security and stability.”
The two leaders were set to discuss the delivery of the advanced S-300 Missiles just as reports surfaced that the missiles had already been delivered by Russia to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army.
Israel media was reporting Tuesday that according to the London-based Arab paper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, the missiles are in Syria and under Russian supervision, but not yet operational.
The powerful weapon has a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) and the ability to track and strike multiple targets simultaneously with lethal efficiency. It would signal a huge advancement in Syria’s air defense capability and pose a strong challenge to any possible aerial campaign. Israel also fears that advanced Russian weapons could fall into the hands of Hezbollah, a key Syrian ally in neighboring Lebanon.
The Russian missile system is also capable of intercepting drones and cruise missiles.
Igor Korotchenko, a former colonel of the Russian General Staff who now heads the Center for Analysis of Global Weapons Trade, said the decision on the S-300 delivery would have a major effect on Israel’s superiority in the region, Israel Hayom reported.
“It may lead to a new round of confrontation with the West,” he said. “It will have a serious impact on the balance of forces, depriving Israel of its air superiority.”
Korotchenko added that Syrian crews will have to spend up to one year in Russia training on how to use the S-300 systems. “Without that, the delivery would make no sense,” he said. “It’s a complex system, and only highly qualified crew can handle it.”