When the gods dance...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Coming Israeli-Russian War?

Posted on 05/29/2013 by Juan Cole

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon bluntly threatened the Russian Federation on Tuesday, saying that if Moscow followed through on its plan to send the S-300 air defense system to Syria, Israel would bomb the arrays. Since the systems will be accompanied by Russian experts, any Israeli strike on them could well kill Russian personnel and create a crisis between nuclear states not seen since India and Pakistan played atomic chicken in 2002.

Israel is afraid that the missiles could fall into the hands of opposition forces such as the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, and could be fired at civilian Israeli jets. They are likely also afraid that if the regime were on the verge of falling, they might be transferred to Hizbullah and so constrain Israeli freedom of movement in southern Lebanon.

At the same time, Sergei Ryabkov, the deputy foreign minister of the Russian Federation, said that the European Union’s inability to extend the ban on exporting weapons to Syria would only accelerate shipment of the S-300s.

Ryabkov said of the air defense array,

“I can only say that we are going ahead with it. We believe that such steps go a long way to restraining some ‘hot-heads’ from exploring scenarios in which this conflict could be given an international character with participation of outside forces.”
(The European Union just failed to extend a weapons ban on Syria that was strongly supported by Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic but opposed by France and Britain. Although the latter two have not said that they will now supply the rebels with weaponry, they may well take that step, and no longer face an impediment from the EU. Russia’s Putin is said to be angry about the change.)
Russia Today reports:

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