The Obama administration denounced Russia on Friday for providing Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime with anti-ship missiles, saying the weapons would only worsen a war that Washington and Moscow have been promising to work together on stopping.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, criticized what he called an "unfortunate decision that will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering." He spoke at a news conference after the New York Times reported that Russia recently delivered an advanced version of Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria.
"It's ill-timed and very unfortunate," Dempsey said.
A Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (photo: AP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that Moscow’s sale of a sophisticated missile defense system to President Bashar Assad could push the Middle East into war.
Netanyahu, who flew to meet Putin for emergency talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, told the Russian president that the S-300 had no relevance to Assad’s civil-war battles against rebel groups, and urged Moscow not to deliver the systems, Channel 2 reported on Wednesday night.
He said that if acquired by Assad, the S-300 — a state-of-the-art system that can intercept fighter jets and cruise missiles — “is likely to draw us into a response, and could send the region deteriorating into war,” the Channel 2 report said.
WASHINGTON: Russia has sent advanced anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria, a move that illustrates the depth of its support for the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad, American officials said on Thursday.
Russia has previously provided a version of the missiles, called Yakhonts, to Syria. However, those delivered recently are outfitted with an advanced radar that makes them more effective, according to American officials who are familiar with classified intelligence reports and would only discuss the shipment on the basis of anonymity.
Unlike Scud and other longer-range surface-to-surface missiles that the Assad government has used against opposition forces, the Yakhont anti-ship missile system provides the Syrian military a formidable weapon to counter any effort by international forces to reinforce Syrian opposition fighters by imposing a naval embargo, establishing a no-fly zone or carrying out limited airstrikes.
"It enables the regime to deter foreign forces looking to supply the opposition from the sea, or from undertaking a more active role if a no-fly zone or shipping embargo were to be declared at some point," said Nick Brown, editor in chief of IHS Jane's International Defense Review. "It's a real ship killer."
U.S. officials tell The Wall Street Journal: Another round of Israeli airstrikes could target a new Russian transfer of Yakhont advanced anti-ship missiles in the near future • Russia moving more quickly than previously thought to deliver S-300 surface-to-air defense systems to Syria • CIA Director John Brennan in Israel to coordinate policy.
Deployment presumably a warning to Israeli and Western officials regarding military intervention against Assad
In a move considered aggressive by US and European officials, Russia has sent at least 12 warships to patrol waters near its naval base in Tartous, Syria.
Russia’s increased presence in the region — which began raising eyebrows in the US three months ago — represents one of its largest sustained naval deployments since the Cold War, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
“It’s a show of force. It’s muscle flexing,” a top US official told the Journal.
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro Visits Amphibious Assault Ship USS Kearsarge in Eilat
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Israel again next week for his fourth trip since embarking on a round of shuttle diplomacy aimed at restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. One of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s senior advisers was asked a few days ago for his opinion of Kerry’s efforts. The man responded with a smile and a wink. “The guy has a lot of energy,” he said dismissively.
About one thing, there’s no disagreement between Jerusalem and Ramallah: Kerry has a lot of good intentions and a real sense of mission; he truly wants to make peace in the Middle East. But despite his good intentions, Kerry so far looks like a naive and ham-handed diplomat who has been acting like a bull in the china shop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Or as former Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan once put it, he’s a good chap in the worst sense of the term.
Obama under judgment? – Five of his recent 'sin proclamations, endorsements and actions' corresponded with three major crises …. Chronology of Obama's activities and corresponding events ... Could this be the beginning of much more? .... John Kerry betting on the wrong horses … Russia- Israel tension rapidly worsening ... Iran’s plans to take over Syria …Iran agents training to storm Israel's border… Russia sending top air-defense system to Assad … Analysis of Russia’s S-300 system … Intervention in Syria: Three things to know .... Ground-based laser systems against rockets ..... Watch out for Petraeus in Benghazi scandal .... Tolerating totalitarianism
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