Israeli officials have expressed concern that Russia, in response to the allies’ triple attack on Syrian chemical sites Friday, will accelerate the sale of advanced weapons systems to Syria, making it a great deal more difficult for the Israeli army to operate on the northern front and for the air force to attack targets deep inside Syria, Channel 2 News reported Saturday.
Despite Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement Saturday night, suggesting that “the United States, France and the United Kingdom demonstrated that their commitment is not limited to proclamations of principle,” the Israeli defense apparatus is concerned that Russia use the excuse of Friday’s attack to sell its advanced weapons systems to the Syrians.
One official who remained anonymous said, “This attack will allow the Americans to say, ‘We have done what is necessary, then leave Syria, forcing Israel to deal with the Iranian threat on the northern border on its own.’”
Sergey Rudskoy, head of the General Operations Directorate of the Russian Staff, was reported to say that Russia may reconsider supplying S-300 missile defense systems to Syria. “I would like to point out that a few years ago, because of the urgent demands from some of our Western partners, we refused to provide Syria with S-300 missile systems,” Rudskoy said, “but taking into account what happened, we consider it possible to re-examine this, not only with regard to Syria but also to other countries.”
“We have developed the Syrian air defense system, and will improve it,” Rudskoy said.
Another source of concern for the Israeli security establishment is that the actions of the Western powers provide Russia with a pretext to ignore Israel’s demands regarding Iranian proxies’ movement on Syrian soil, especially near the border.