IN DEPTH - Russian claims are inspiring even if dubious


Published on: Sep 24, 2018 @ 13:58 – Russian media and the MoD are making a big infowar ado about supplying S-300’s to Syria. Events in the near future will determine if this is actually done, or if Russia is using this media simulacrum as a  bargaining chip.

In a major development, Russia has just announced it will carry through with its prior obligation to supply S-300 to Syria. This is to come within 2 weeks after the downing of the Il-20 which Russia says that Israel is ultimately, though ‘indirectly’, responsible for. After a number of days of mixed signals and narrative changes from the Russian side, it appears that the meeting between Israeli and Russian officials has resulted in this big policy shift on the side of Russia.

FRN has reported, and several other analysts have agreed, that it is probable that France was the party that shot down the IL-20. That Israel is both ultimately and yet indirectly responsible, which is now Russia’s official line, is not debated.

However, FRN notes a pattern of Russian statements used as ‘weather balloons’ or ‘minee canaries’, utilizing the fact that most news readers forget past news, and that this goes ‘down the memory hole‘. FRN notes that Russia has numerous times made similar statements, and then backtracked on them, in unceremonious reports buried in the back-pages of  Russian ‘made for Western audiences’ news outlets.

Therefor, FRN takes the ‘wait and see’ approach to Russian announcements. Russia has a history of using major media announcements as a form of information war ‘diplomacy’, creating a simulacrum that this is a very real policy that is ready to go forward. Then Russia will use the public announcement and the positive public reception it receives, as a bargaining chip to do something else, or gain some other concession, and will drop the commitments.

In relation to the S-300 story itself, Russia has precisely done this already once before: actually guaranteeing S-300’s to Syria, even completing the sale of them, and then failing to deliver due to an ‘Israeli request’. A party that uses and leverages obligations with another party to convince yet a third party to do something else, to the detriment of the initial obligation with the second party, will probably do the same again. Syria is in a weak position at this time to do much more than accept whatever policy Russia engages in, however unpredictable (on the face of it), Russia is.

However, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, within two weeks Russia will finally go through with the delivery an S-300 air defense system to Damascus.

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It must be noted, for the historical record, that Russia had made a commitment already to provide these to Syria, which Syria had already begun or made payment on. However, this was previously suspended for no other official reason than a ‘request’ by Israel. 

In the interim, many experts and analysts have noted that Israel has taken advantage of the fact that Russia has committed not to shoot down Israeli planes attacking Syria intermittently, given that the attacks to date were neither major nor determinative in terms of the outcome of the Syrian conflict.  However, the downing of the IL-20 event appears to have changed things. Russia has in fact officially declared that they are going through with the delivery of the S-300 system to Syria as part of response to the downing of a Russian plane amid an Israeli air raid on Syria.

While FRN has determined that France was likely the party which directly downed the IL-20, Moscow ‘flipped’ the western propaganda narrative that the SAA accidentally shot it down, and accused Israel of failing to inform Russia about its impending attack on targets in Syria, which resulted in a downing of the Russian electronic warfare aircraft by Syrian’s return fire. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the defense ministry to take several measures in response to the incident, according to the MoD.

Israel will no doubt be quite upset by the delivery to Syria of an S-300 anti-aircraft system, but we can also at this surmise that this will come as no surprise given that there has been high level interactions between Tel Aviv and Moscow, where this was without a doubt on the table.

The move to give to Syria its previously purchased S-300’s will boost Syria’s capabilities and in probability deny Israel access to Syrian airspace. The system was purchased by Damascus several years ago, but as a consequence of an ‘Israeli request’, reflecting the power of Zionism in International Relations and even in the Kremlin itself to a determinable extent, it was never delivered.

In 2013 on a request from the Israeli side we suspended the delivery to Syria of the S-300 system, which was ready to be sent with its Syrian crews trained to use it,” the MoD statement said.

“The situation has changed, and not due to our fault.”

It is widely understood that the S-300 is a highly capable SAM, anti-air system, in that it can engage targets at a range of up to 250 km at an over 90% hit rate. Syria’s current anti-aircraft systems include older models such as the S-200, which have proven somewhat effective even against advanced multiroles attack jets in Israel’s arsenal. Syria has successfully downed a few Israeli jets in the past using the S-200, demonstrating its capabilities, but they were not consistently effective enough to prevent Israeli attacks nor discourage them as a matter of Israeli doctrine.

Also, the Russian military claims it will also supply ‘better control systems’ to Syrian Air Defense Troops, “which are only supplied to the Russian Armed Forces,” defense chief Sergei Shoigu explained. FRN has explained in turn, more accurately, that Russian and Syrian military assets are presently already integrated at the Lattakia site, as has been revealed numerous times in accurate write-ups and reports from credible news sites specializing on Syria, such as Al Masdar, and even the MoD statements themselves from 2015. Therefor, what is now being announced as ‘better control systems’ must be understood in light of the following claim by Russia:

Russia claims that the ‘better control systems’ will allow for the integration of Syrian and Russian military assets, allowing the Syrian to have better targeting information. “The most important thing is that it will ensure identification of Russian aircraft by the Syrian air defense forces.”  This is the IFF – identify Friend/Foe system, which FRN notes is already integrated as an operational necessity at Lattakia.  Potentially, Russian media claims, the integration of Syria into the Russian IFF system (which it denies being a reality until the near future), would also expose Israeli aircraft tracked by Russian radar stations to Syrian fire.

This is a convolution of two separate matters, and Russian media simulacrum on the matter is patently false on the face of it;

1. The integration of IFF between Russia and Syrian assets, which is already a matter of fact, but which Russia has later officially denied in its initial explanation of the IL-20 downing incident, is now reintroduced as a ‘measure’ they will only now carry out. This is a transponder based system which works in the affirmative – a plane sending the ‘friend’ code, as opposed to the absence of a readable transmission, is not capable of being auto-targeted by these largely automated systems. This is not the same as access to Russia’s radar data compiled in part by the use of surveillance planes, like for e.g, the IL-20.

2. That Russia can relay Russian radar information of the Israeli craft to the Syrian defense systems, is unrelated to IFF integration, but will nevertheless be useful for Syria to have – if Russia indeed carries this out. While the claim on the one hand and whatever materializes on the other, may differ, has been explained in the above.

Finally, the Russian defense ministry has claimed as a third measure in response to what FRN understands as Israel’s war crimes, is a bouquet of electronic countermeasures over the Syrian coastline. These are said to be able to “suppress satellite navigation, onboard radar systems and communications of warplanes attacking targets on Syrian territory.” and is an example of Russia’s superior ‘jamming’ systems.

What will actually transpire is presently unknown. FRN at this time assigns a 65-70% probability that Russia will carry out the delivery of the S-300’s within the timeline described, and barring further developments, a declining probability they will deliver them after the described timeline.


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