Photo Credit: Ofer Zidon / Flash 90
Israel Air Force's F-15E in action, July 6, 2021.

Russia has removed its sophisticated S-300 aerial defense system and missiles from Syria, according to a report Wednesday by The New York Times.

In addition, at least 1,200 Russian troops – and possibly more — have also been drawn down and sent to fight in Ukraine, with several Russian commander redeployed there as well.


Three senior defense officials based in the Middle East – two from Western countries and one from Israel — told the news outlet that as a result, restrictions have been eased on Israeli military action in Syria.

Nevertheless, there have been no Israeli strikes in Syria over the past several weeks, although the reason is unclear.

In any case, this is not the first such report of Russia ‘taking from Peter to pay Paul’ by moving weaponry from Syria to Ukraine. Since August, Russia has been shipping S-300 anti-aircraft missile batteries to a port near Crimea, according to images from the Israeli ImageSat International satellite imaging company.

Satellite images showed the presence of an S-300 anti-aircraft battery in the Masyaf base in Syria this past April. By late August, the same site was empty after the missiles were shipped to Syria’s port of Tartus.

Different images showed the presence of the missiles on a dock at the port; but by August 20 they were gone. The Russian vessel Sparta II had left Tartus at around the same time and was later spotted in the Russian port of Novorossiysk. It is believed the aerial defense battery was sent to Crimea after eight Russian combat planes were destroyed that same month in a series of explosions at a local airbase.

The S-300 air defense system was delivered by Russia to Syria in 2018, where the IDF regularly carries out air strikes to reduce military entrenchment by Iran and its terrorist proxies (Hezbollah) on Israel’s northern border.

The move created Israeli military concerns the system could be used against IDF aircraft – a concern that has fueled Israel’s adamant refusal to supply Ukraine with offensive weapons, including its acclaimed Iron Dome anti-missile defense system.

Gantz Reiterates ‘No Weapons for Ukraine’

Defense Minister Benny Gantz told a gathering of European Union ambassadors on Wednesday that Israel will not provide Ukraine with such weapons “due to a variety of operational considerations.”

Gantz noted, however, that the Jewish State is willing to help Ukraine develop an aerial defense warning system to contend with the ongoing missile fire and Iranian kamikaze drone strikes employed by Russia against Kyiv.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.