Syria Daily: Russia Tilts Towards Israel — No S-300 Missiles for Assad

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin, May 9, 2018

UPDATE 1100 GMT: Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a member of the Israeli Security Cabinet, said at a cultural event in a Tel Aviv suburb, “An opportunity has arisen for Israel to uproot Iran from Syria, and we’ll take advantage of this opportunity.”

Galant, a former army general, continued, “We need to strike while the iron is hot and eradicate any trace of Iranian entrenchment in Syria. We’ll put the Iranian genie back in its bottle.”

Israeli officials told TV news on Friday night that the Security Cabinet believes Iran “has gotten the Israeli message, and won’t mess with us in the near future”.

Earlier in the day, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Bashar al-Assad that he should “throw” Iranian forces out of the country.


Tilting towards Israel to discourage a confrontation with Iran in Syria, the Kremlin has said that it will not supply S-300 air defense missile systems to the Assad regime.

The announcement on Friday came two days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin in Moscow, followed hours later by Israeli strikes on Assad regime and Iranian positions across the country.

See Syria Daily, May 11: Israel — Our Strikes Set Back Iranian Military “Many Months”

Russia has dangled the possibility of S-300 deliveries to Assad for years, but has never confirmed an arrangement. Meanwhile, Israel has periodically struck regime and Iranian targets, trying to disrupt missile and weapons transfers to Lebanon’s Hezbollah and to maintain a buffer zone in southwest Syria near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, before escalating the attacks early Thursday after rockets were fired at the Golan Heights.

Last month, after US-UK-France strikes in response to the Assad regime’s chemical attacks near Damascus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said any moral obligation had been removed on Russia’s supply of the S-300s. The Kommersant daily, citing unnamed military sources, said deliveries might begin imminently.

But yesterday Putin’s aide Vladimir Kozhin said, “For now, we’re not talking about any deliveries of new modern systems.” He added that the Assad regime’s military already has “everything it needed”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also stepped back from last month’s comments, “Deliveries were never announced as such. But we did say after the strikes [last month] that of course Russia reserved the right to do anything it considered necessary.”

The denial of the S-300s to Assad is the latest sign that Russia, despite being the essential ally keeping the regime in power, is choosing Israel in any confrontation with Damascus and adhering to a de facto agreement from Netanyahu and Putin in September 2015 — days before military intervention by the Russians.

Russia has never tried to check an Israeli raid on regime and Iranian positions, using its own S-300s around Russian bases in Syria. On Thursday, Israel informed Moscow just before it attacked, and the Russians again refrained from any action.

The steps may also check the Assad regime’s desire for an offensive to capture opposition territory in the south, near the Jordanian border and the Golan Heights. Any operation, involving Iranian-led militia and Hezbollah, is likely to bring a sharp Israeli response.

See An Impending War Between Israel and Iran in Syria?

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73 COMMENTS

  1. The denial of the S-300s to Assad is the latest sign that Russia, despite being the essential ally keeping the regime in power, is choosing Israel in any confrontation with Damascus

    Why would they chose Israel over their ally? Russia’s primary objective is the consolidation of Assad’s control of Syria. What remains to be seen is what Netanyahu offered Putin in return for this reversal. After the latest Israeli attack, the Israelis insisted they did not want the conflict to escalate. Lieberman made an unusual statement that he hoped this would be the end of such exchanges, which suggests Netanyahu has offer to put an end to Israeli attack on Syrian territory.

    There is no way Putin would have made this concession for nothing in return.

    • As a colleague and I are on the verge of completing an academic paper on the “tacit security regime” between Israel and Russia over Syria, I humbly suggest that your vision of Russia’s tactics and calculations is a bit narrow.

      • I would be curious to find out how your research addresses the fact that Assad’s survival, supported by Russia and opposed by Israel, fits in with this security regime.

        Everyone I have read who much who intimately knows and understands Russia would find this thesis a novel concept

            • You’re citing an opinion piece by a retired general as the position of the Netanyahu Cabinet and his serving officers?

            • And you notice that proviso in Lieberman’s statement, “In my personal opinion”?

              If you were going more than Googling for a straw to grasp, you might take time to consider that Israel — like others — is trying to edge Russia away from Assad personally but without replacing the structures of the regime. You might even consider why.

              • Israel — like others — is trying to edge Russia away from Assad personally but without replacing the structures of the regime. You might even consider why.

                That’s not hard. The last time Assad was isolated from Russia, his regime was on the verge of being overthrown.

            • Andre, barring a democratic regime in Syria which is now unlikely, Israel prefers to have the devil it knows (Assad) than a devil it does not know (Sunni Islamic Republic of the rebels). The only reason Israel is not bombing the Islamist rebels in Syria is because it wants to keep a balance between the two parties. Israel doesn’t like Iran’s presence in Syria and so may even provide assistance to the rebels. This will change if the rebels decide to democratize, which is unlikely. There is no reason once the war is over in Syria that Russia would like an Iranian presence in Syria – Iran and Russia have very divergent interests in a post-war Syria. So there are reasons why Russia and Israel will cooperate to keep Iran out. Your 1950s geopolitical analysis that Iran and Russia are in the same anti-imperialist camp and together they will bring down US hegemony is so outmoded and is considered childish today. Kremlin does not want a cold war, even though there are old-guard post-communist elements there who think like you.

        • Andre: “I would be curious to find out how your research addresses the fact that Assad’s survival, supported by Russia and opposed by Israel, fits in with this security regime.

          Everyone I have read who much who intimately knows and understands Russia would find this thesis a novel concept”

          Lol.

    • You honestly think that Putin between Assad and the risk of a confrontation with israel and the US is gonna choose Bashar and the iranians?? lol
      Vlad finds himeself in a very tough corner. Trying to save whats left of Assad, to be intended as saving my influence in syria and all the concessions (gas, rebuilding etc) and on the other hand getting loose of any proximity with the iranians and their agenda in Syria. Assad is just a tool for both parties to be used and consumed. Reason why nobody dared to fire a shot everytime Syria was bombed by the west or israel in the last 5 years.

      • And the only time that Putin submitted to Prigozhin to send Russian fighters to capture an oil well, 210 Russian fighters were wiped out within a few hours by the US, another 300 Assad soldiers dead, and only one injury to a Kurd. Putin has read the handwriting on the wall. He got re-elected. He is not an ideologue. He has run out of money. World oil and gas demand is dropping. Already 2 million barrels of oil a day has become unnecessary due to electric vehicles. Putin is now turning inward. He has 6 years to build himself a lasting legacy, or get off the potty.

        • And the only time that Putin submitted to Prigozhin to send Russian fighters to capture an oil well, 210 Russian fighters were wiped out

          Wrong. There were 200 killed but it a dozen were Russians. The rest were mercenaries from Pakistan, Iran and a number of other countries. The commander of that group went rogue and decided to attack the US base in open desert. The US brought in every asset they had to attack them.

          Putin has not run out of money. Crude has spiked 19% this year, to prices unseen since late 2014, so Putin’s balance sheet is looking healthy.

          • The consensus of evidence — and I’ve been through this with journalists covering the area — is that the large majority of the 200+ casualties were Russian.

              • Russia “military contractors” are deployed to carry out the operations of the Defense Ministry and Russian military.

              • Sources on the ground say 200+ russian wagner mercs smoked by the US. Full stop. Next?

              • Sources on the ground say 200+ russian wagner mercs smoked by the US.

                Russian merecs meaning mercy hired by Russia. Only a dozen were Russian. In fact, the US contracted Moscow prior to ask them what was going on and Moscow did little to dissuade them from taking them out.

              • No, the Wagner Group “private military contractors” who were killed were all Russians.

              • What Andre is confusing is that the attacking force numbered over 500. Of these, 300 were Syrians, Iranians, Shiites from outside of Syria, etc. And Andre, what do you think the Russian de-conflict people will do when they know this merc force is a test for US resolve. Will they call them back? Of course not. This is part of the progressive escalation tactic of Assad and Putin — like with their gassing program. They need to test US’s resolve. And they went ahead with it, and learnt a hard lesson. “rogue Wagner commander”? LMAO. The Wagner mercs do things for money. They will not mount a major attack without agreeing with the Russian military on how to divide the spoils. Nobody is going to finance this attack without having a deal and green light with Putin.

              • Link?

                The Truth About the Russian Deaths in Syria
                Hundreds of Russian soldiers are alleged to have died in U.S. airstrikes at the beginning of February. Reporting by DER SPIEGEL shows that events were likely very different.

                http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/american-fury-the-truth-about-the-russian-deaths-in-syria-a-1196074.html

                “The situation on the ground between Khusham and Tabiya on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, described by a half dozen witnesses and people who were party to the events, does not confirm Russian mercenary participation in the attack or even that they joined the fighting at all. Ahmad Ramadan, the journalist who founded the Euphrates Post and has since emigrated to Turkey, comes from Tabiya. One of his contacts fights for the al-Baqir militia and took the video at the site of the bombings. “If it had been a Russian attack, with many Russian dead, we would have reported about it,” he said. “But it wasn’t. The Russians in Tabiya just had the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.””

              • I know this article very well — I was one of those consulted about it before it was published.

                Having worked closely on it, I think Reuter (a fantastic journalist whom I doubt you will quote in any other case, given his exposure of pro-Assad atrocities) got part of the story — but not the part about the incident where the 200 Russians were cut down.

                In other words, there were a series of clashes east of the Euphrates and Reuter got the one where the Wagner Group was not involved.

              • Of these, 300 were Syrians, Iranians, Shiites from outside of Syria, etc.

                So what you are saying is that only Russians were killed and that the US air power spared the were Syrians, Iranians, Shiites from outside of Syria?

                And Andre, what do you think the Russian de-conflict people will do when they know this merc force is a test for US resolve.

                Why would they need to test US resolve? The Russians don’t need more problems or to make their tak in Syria any more difficult than it already is.
                You and Caligola keep repeating the mantra that the US is there to teach these groups lessons. None of these interests have the resources to waste learning lessons. That is why they have deconfliction.

              • The reports said hundred of Syrians (Iranians, etc.) were killed in ADDITION to the 200 Russians.

                US resolve is the most critical information that Russians need. Especially when Trump says one thing, Tillerson another, and Mattis a third thing. The whole Russian strategy is contingent on what the US plans are for Syria. What better way to test it by grabbing an oil field, and then creepingly add more fields and territories until the Americans throw their hands in the air and go home. America has been in retreat for 7 years. So it was time to push the US out of the rink in one last blow.

                It now seems that this disaster convinced Putin to play good and be happy with attaining 80% of his objectives and stop the hemorrhaging of his resources because of Syria.

              • The reports said hundred of Syrians (Iranians, etc.) were killed in ADDITION to the 200 Russians.
                Some do. Der Spiegel exposes the false origins of those reports.
                http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/american-fury-the-truth-about-the-russian-deaths-in-syria-a-1196074.html

                The whole Russian strategy is contingent on what the US plans are for Syria.
                Not at all. The Russian strategy is contingent on Russian interests. They didn’t ask for US permission to enter the Syrian conflict.

              • You don’t seem to have understood the comment I made earlier when you posted the Spiegel link.

              • In other words, there were a series of clashes east of the Euphrates and Reuter got the one where the Wagner Group was not involved.

                Reuter explicitly refers to the incident involving the Wager Group.

                “At the same time, however, a completely different version of events has gained traction — disseminated at first by Russian nationalists like Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, and then by others associated with the Wagner unit. According to those accounts, many more Russians had been killed in the battle — 100, 200, 300 or as many as 600. An entire unit, it was said, had been wiped out and the Kremlin wanted to cover it up. Recordings of alleged fighters even popped up apparently confirming these horrendous losses.”

              • He refers to it but his sources spoke primarily about action in another area. Thus Reuter’s scepticism about the 200 Russians killed (and more wounded), despite the multiple sources from Russia testifying to casualties.

                Again, there was more than one battle area on that evening, reconciling the different accounts.

              • Thus Reuter’s scepticism about the 200 Russians killed (and more wounded), despite the multiple sources from Russia testifying to casualties.

                Fair point. He does appear to be jumping between multiple different incidents

      • You honestly think that Putin between Assad and the risk of a confrontation with israel and the US is gonna choose Bashar and the iranians??

        What makes you think the US and Israel are prepared to risk a confrontation with Russia? Remind me how many visits Netanyahu has made to Moscow vs the number of visits Putin made to Israel.

        Putin had to have factored the risk of confrontation when he chose to enter the conflict and assist the Assad regime in achieving victory.

        Assad is just a tool for both parties to be used and consumed. Reason why nobody dared to fire a shot everytime Syria was bombed by the west or israel in the last 5 years.

        Umm, you forgot about the downed F16. In any case, all sides are pawns in this conflict. The US doesn’t give a damn about the “rebels”, or the Kurds or the “Syrian people”. The only thing more dangerous than being an enemy of the US is being an ally.

    • “Why would they chose Israel over their ally? Russia’s primary objective is the consolidation of Assad’s control of Syria. ” — Hhhahha, you are viewing the Syria war from an ideological Marxist perspective that the good forces of socialism (Russia) are fighting the evil imperialism (America). You don’t seem to be getting it that with the demise of the Soviet Union, Marxism went out the window. But you and Berber are still clinging to outmoded 1950s geopolitics.

      Putin is not your Stalin or Brezhnev. He is the guy who hauled a German made Bosch washing machine on the roof of his car when he fled Dresden to St. Petersburg upon the demise of the Berlin wall. He does not subscribe to backwardism that you cherish. He is not going to keep his 130 million people in backwardian conditions, if he is going to be true to his own nationalism.

      Wake up and smell the coffee. I know how a former Soviet nuclear engineer, now working as a translator and internet hack, feels. If you want to become a super power, you need to smarten up and play the game professionally. Burning 20% of your budget holding up a petty Nazi dictator and financing his armaments and anti-air systems for free, is not going to bring you world power status. You need to have money to become a world power. Russia’s real income per capita is the same as Mexico. When Mexico becomes a superpower, then you would have a chance for Russia to become a superpower. Until then keep on dreaming that a dirt poor country with almost no industrial production and nothing worth to export is going to rival the western world. Liberal democracy is here to stay. You better learn how to use a voting booth. 😀

      • Burning 20% of your budget holding up a petty Nazi dictator and financing his armaments and anti-air systems for free, is not going to bring you world power status.

        I agree. America’s days as a super power are numbered.

        • America is also in a bind, and its trade deficit is phenomenal. It is certainly under huge budgetary pressures, including for military applications. But America is not spending 20% of its defense budget on Syria or Crimea, and its bases cost very little, and sometimes financed by the host nation. There is value in geopolitical stability and that is what the entire world (except for some has-beens and wanna-bees) have come to agree. The west, as long as it is economically capable, will have a military presence throughout the world. Your communist or fascist ideas that this means the US is exploiting and stealing and plundering and holding other nations back – is a well known hallucinatory disease held by losers and nihilists and now the postmoderns. If anything, the US is suffering from its superpower role, and that was one of Trump and isolationist arguments to be more real-politic.

          • America is not spending 20% of its defense budget on Syria or Crimea, and its bases cost very little, and sometimes financed by the host nation.

            The bases cost $150 billion annually to maintain, which is 22% if the defence budget. That doesn’t include the cost of it’s bombing of 8 countries. What country finances it’s own US bases? The bases don’t being bring geopolitical stability.
            Most of the bases are located in oil producing areas. This is not to protect anyone, it is to threaten them. The US maintains there bases because it is an empire and uses the bases to project it’s power and influence, much like an organised crime gang does.
            The purpose of the bases is to prevent any other country from rising to challenge US hegemony.

            • Andre – If you take a poll, 90% of countries will say they prefer US hegemony to Russian hegemony or to no hegemony. Internationally there has to be an order. That is what US offers. You call that hegemony — but you have not been able to show anything wrong with that. And most countries are just happy with that. Nobody wants to be threatened with nukes from Iran or NK or Pakistan. Nobody wants their ships to be stopped at gunpoint and kidnapped. The only reason you think the western democratic order is something to be destroyed is because of the humiliation that the communists received with the disbandment of the USSR (and the false dreams of a ‘just’ communist society). You falsely put the USSR in the same league as the west, and then when it imploded, you falsely assumed that was the job of the west. Your inability to think that nations wish to trade and have a secure international order, and that results in economic progress, is the source of your inability to comprehend international relations. Go and fight your windmills, and leave us in peace.

              • If you take a poll, 90% of countries will say they prefer US hegemony to Russian hegemony or to no hegemony.
                There you go again with your imaginary polls. Polls have consistently shown that the US is regarded as the number one threat to world peace. Most suspiring is that this sentiment is shared by even US allies.
                The US offers hegemony and the constant threat of militarism. World order should be established by consensus, not the threat of military attack by one power.
                You call that hegemony — but you have not been able to show anything wrong with that.
                Are you kidding? The ME is on fire. The US is on the constant hunt for new enemies and is bombing 8 countries as we speak.
                There would never have been a threat of nukes from Iran or NK or Pakistan were it not for the US, which ironically is the only country ever to have used them.
                The only reason you think the western democratic order is something to be destroyed is because of the humiliation that the communists received with the disbandment of the USSR
                For a start, your “order” is not democratic. It is little more than the will of the US and a handful of lackeys to dominate the rest of the world either through violence or economic extortion.

    • “There is no way Putin would have made this concession for nothing in return.” — Sometimes you have to do things that is out of your control. That is why you are unable to explain this, trying to find a ghost reason for Putin pulling back. Your calculations have been wrong and face that like a man. Thanks for the confession.

      • Sometimes you have to do things that is out of your control. That is why you are unable to explain this, trying to find a ghost reason for Putin pulling back.

        It was Netanyahu sucking up to Putin, not the other way around. Visiting Moscow and attending the Victory Day parade is the the diplomatoc equivalent of performing fellatio on Vlad.

        As always, you are 100% wrong.

        • So your understanding of geopolitics is now reduced to which leader visits which other leader, and how many times. You are finding rationality ghosts in every nooks and cranny. Putin has an inferiority complex, when he was treated like shit in Dresden (or was it Leipzig). Netanyahu is indulging that. Besides, Russia is like 10 times larger and more influential than Israel. What does protocol dictate?

          • So your understanding of geopolitics is now reduced to which leader visits which other leader, and how many times.

            Your last sentence proves my point.

            “Besides, Russia is like 10 times larger and more influential than Israel. What does protocol dictate?”

    • This is part of the progressive escalation tactic of Assad and Putin — like with their gassing program.

      Wrong. The attack on the US base was clearly an act of insanity on the part of the commander in the ground who allegedly went rogue and took matters into his own hands. The US contacted Moscow before they launched the attack. At that point they would have warned Moscow what they were prepared to do and would have given Moscow amplme opportunity to call off the assault if indeed they ordered it.

      The fact Moscow did not do this is proves Moscow we’re not in control of the group or had lost control of them.

      • But but but, the imperialist intelligence agencies are deceiving Putin. Don’t you know that all relations between people and countries is one of domination followed by exploitation? They are sending him sublime signals to appreciate Jewish culture, so that the imperialists and Zionists can exploit and steal Syrian oil, olives, and goat dung fertilizer. How did the West become so rich? By the colonial spice trade. Estaqfurellah!

    • The Pantsir performed admirably. It show down at least 30 Israeli rockets.

      Speaking of reputation, it was hillarous how orders for the Merkava dried up after Hezbollah toasted 20 of them in 2006

      • Go back to sleep and as a hobby continue with photography. Leave politics and military stuff to others.

      • Here are the losses by israel of Merkava tanks in 2006:

        Total hit: 52
        Total penetrated: 21
        Total missiles fired: 500+
        Penetrated by ATGM: 15
        Penetrated by IED: 6
        Destroyed: 5 (2 Mark II, 1 Mark III, 2 Mark IV)
        Destroyed by ATGM: 3
        Destroyed by IED: 2 (Mark II and Mark IV)
        So 5 destroyed. Not 20. Plus your ignorancy is total when you speak about orders or Merkava tanks falling. Well let me refresh your brain as usuall. Israek DOESN’T EXPORT the Merkava tank. Now keep us laughing !! :)

  2. As I suspected, the initial claims by the Israelis of their success were vastly exaggerated. More than half of the 60 missiles fired by 28 Israeli F-15s and F-16s – as well as 10 ground-to-ground missiles – were intercepted. The Syrian army recorded only 3 dead and 2 wounded, a radar station and ammunition depot destroyed and material damage to Syrian anti-aircraft defense units.

    Also, a number of sources are reporting that the Syrian mortars did not land harmlessly as claimed by Israel. Al-Mayadeen specifically identified the military posts struck:
    1) a military technical and electronic reconnaissance center;
    2) border security and intelligence station 9900;
    3) a military center for electronic jamming;
    4) a military spy center for wireless and wired networks;
    5) a transmission station;
    6) an observatory of precision weapons unit ;
    7) a combat heliport;
    8) the headquarters of the Regional Military Command of Brigade 810;
    9) the command center of the military battalion at Hermon;
    10) winter headquarters of a special alpine unit.

    • And you wasted what? 20 min of your life to pull up this list of garbage claims. Then we see the source and it all makes sense.

      • You do realise that Israeli news sources that repeat government claims are unrealible and that the Israeli government imposes draconian cencorship restrictions on it’s press when it comes to reporting on military conflicts? In fact, during the 2006 war, there were news reports that Israelis in Haifa were tuning in to Hezbollah’s TV station broadcasts because they didn’t trust what the Israeli government was talking them. The IDF went crazy trying to take out the television station and could failed to interrupt it throughout the entire 30 days of the conflict.

        • Again you have no clue what you are speaking about. This whole daily is should be made sticky by Scott so that everybody can come and have a laugh. I still dont understand why Scott still gives you the opportunity to spread bs all over the place. Lets call it democracy……..

          • I know exactly what I am speaking about. I was following the 2006 conflict extremely closely, especially reports from those on the ground.

            Israel’s censorship laws are well documented and reporters have often run afoul of these laws for relasing such information. One example was the lead up to the 2014 Gaza conflict when the government banned reporting the fact that the 3 Jewish youths who had been kidnapped had died within hours of being taken. Netanyahu maintained the facade that they were still alive and that a rescue mission was under way to save them. This gave Bibbi the pretext to start bombing Gaza and start the conflict which was in fact motivated by a strategy to sabotage the unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah.

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