Right aftermath, when Russia has deployed its S-300 and S-400 long-range missile systems in its naval base in Tartus, some concerns were raised as it may be seen as a new phase of US – Russian confrontation in the Middle East. Defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that the purpose of the system was to guarantee the security of the base from the air. The move comes amid growing tension with the West. This makes it first time Russia has deployed S-300 missile system outside its borders.
When a temporary peace agreement has been broken in, both the US and Russia blame each other in violating fragile ceasefire in Syria. According to Azzam Abu Saud, Russia intends to show that it still maintains an undeniable impact in the Middle East. By the deployment of S-300 missile system in Syria, Russia extends its capability of controlling the whole air space in Syria. Therefore, the fighter jets of the U.S Air forces that carry flights over Aleppo and against Assad’s troops may have been down by one of the most powerful missile systems in the world. According to a number of Russian media, Russia also deployed Sukhoi Su-24 and Su-34 fighter-bombers to Syria a few days ago. According to a number of Russian media, a few days earlier Russia also deployed Sukhoi Su-24 and Su-34 fighter-bombers to Syria. The Su-25 attack aircraft are also being prepared for relocation. Russia’s Defence Ministry refused to comment on this information.
Nevertheless, the Russian FM Sergei Lavrov gave an official statement that S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems in Syria threaten no one, as these are defensive armaments. According to Lavrov, Russia has deployed its S-300 system in Syria for providing a reliable protection for its military personnel. “We must guarantee reliable protection of our military personnel, the aerospace group and the logistics facility in the port of Tartus in a situation that is not returning to calm,” he said.
While the number of deaths among land troops is growing, the conflict intentionally becomes more international within the involvement of various countries. Simultaneously, Russia has suspended an agreement with the US on the disposal of surplus weapons-grade plutonium, the latest sign of worsening bilateral relations. Under the 2000 deal, each side is supposed to get rid of 34 tonnes of plutonium by burning it in reactors. In a decree, President Vladimir Putin accused the US of creating “a threat to strategic stability, as a result of unfriendly actions” towards Russia. Seemingly, by such a significant step, the Kremlin would demand the elimination of economic sanctions against itself over the Ukraine crisis.
Meanwhile, the US has sent its special forces to Syria, which will hold a joint military operation alongside with Turkish special forces against the so-called Islamic State. Taking into consideration the latest US military activity it is safe to say that the latter would launch massive air raids against the government troops of Assad near the surrounded city Aleppo. Notwithstanding the fact, in the current stage President B. Obama would not start a large-scale war in Syria just before the general elections. Therefore, Russia gained wide floor for political and military manoeuvres in Syria. Obviously, unlike the US, which does not have a priority, Russia seems to be reluctant to withdraw from its main goal to re-seize Aleppo. If Russia succeeds to gather enough power to seize more territory in the Eastern part of Syria, it will prolong Assad’s rule for a certain time.
The deepening human tragedy in Aleppo is worsening day-by-day as Assad’s troops do not hesitate to use internationally banned phosphorus bombs and air strikes against civilians. A few days after the joint US-Russia-brokered ceasefire collapsed, at least 290 people – mostly civilians –(including 57 children) have been killed in Aleppo’s rebel-held areas, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. According to the Britain-based monitoring group, which relies on a network of sources on the ground in Syria. Another 50 civilians, including nine children, have been killed in rebel shelling of government-held areas of the city.
Alas, it seems impossible both for the US and Russia to handle with the geopolitical turmoil that is still triggering situation in the Middle East. Undoubtedly, it is necessary to highlight one civil war – multiple battles perception. The only way to reach compromise over Syrian bloodshed is to consider national interests of all regional players such as Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and even Israel. Unfortunately, the leading players in the conflict show less effort in that direction. Another problem that shapes the conflict in a bad way is deepening the crisis of the US – Russian relations. Although J. Kerry and S. Lavrov attempts to find a compromise between Washington and Moscow, the bilateral mistrust among political and military elites adds fuel to the fire.
Most probably, the negotiations over Syrian crisis will be restored since Moscow clearly understands that the crisis cannot be resolved only through military operations. However, it is not worthy to expect the peace dialogue very soon as Moscow feels offended following the latest mass air strikes of Assad’s troops near Deir-az-Zor. A part of it, Russia must consider the fact that right aftermath the general elections in the US, new leader of the White House may be less enthusiastic in launching a new phase of negotiations over the Syrian crisis. Until that time no doubt that the military struggle in Syria will strengthen, and definitely will cost more human live.
Fuad Shahbazov for The Times of Israel