The Israel Defense Forces has reportedly approached the Russian Defense Ministry to request that new coordination procedures be developed now that Russia has stationed S-300 anti-aircraft missiles in Syria. News of the IDF request appeared in the Russian newspaper Izvestia.
The Russians stationed the new missile system about two weeks ago at their naval base at the Syrian port of Tartus.
The move was in response to the American decision to suspend contacts with Russia regarding Syria and out of concern that the United States would attack the army of Syria President Bashar Assad in response to the ongoing slaughter in Aleppo.
“In the context of the hotline between [Israel and Russia], the Israelis sent us a request to develop new procedures and open-fire rules to be added to the existing coordination mechanism,” a Russian source told Izvestia, adding that the request was made in an effort to prevent Russian missile systems in Syria from firing at Israeli aircraft by mistake.
“We are currently developing our response and will send it to the Israelis in the context of the agreed upon procedures between the [two] sides,” the source said.
Alex Tenzer, an expert on Russian-Israeli relations, told TOT that the reinforcement of Russian forces in Syria and particularly the stationing of the S-300 missiles is part of a Russia battle against the United States, and not against Israel.
“For Russia, this is not a regional battle but rather a global one,” he said. “Russia needs the military coordination with Israel regarding Syria no less than Israel needs it.”
The S-300 system is considered one of the most advanced aerial defense systems in the world.
Beyond the system’s advanced radar, which is capable of identifying and tracking a large number of targets at a particularly long range, the anti-aircraft missiles themselves have a 200-kilometer (125-mile) range.
The stationing of the system on Syrian soil, even if it remains fully under Russian control, poses a challenge for the Israel Air Force and is liable to limit its freedom of action in the skies over Syria.
In recent years, several reports have appeared regarding Russia’s intention to transfer S-300 missiles to the Syrian army.
On each occasion, Israel applied heavy pressure on Russia at the highest levels, including talks that on Israel’s behalf involved former President Shimon Peres, current President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Russian President Vladimir Putin and with his predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev. As of now, Russia has not provided the missile system to the Syrian army.