The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday morning that Russia sent 12 warships on naval tours near its naval base in Syria. American and European officials described the move as “violent and aimed at warning the West and Israel against intervening in the Syrian conflict.”
News agencies, including Egyptian and Syrian agencies, reported yesterday that 5 Russian warships had crossed the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean Sea. The spokesperson for the Russian fleet in the Atlantic Ocean said that it was the first time in decades that ships of the Russian fleet had sailed in the area. According to him, the 5 ships are headed for the Limassol marina in Cyprus.
The Russian Minister of Defence, Sergey Shoygu, stated that the Ministry of Defence began the formation of a special warship force of in the Mediterranean Sea to protect Russian interests in the region.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that Russia has sent advanced anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria.
“Yedioth Ahronoth” commented by saying that the missiles were advanced models of the “Yakhont” missile and are considered a dangerous threat to Israeli Navy ships and the gas platform located 300 kilometres from the coast.
It also noted that the new “Yakhont” missiles have been fitted with an advanced radar system enabling it to hit its target with extreme precision. According to American sources, Russia has supplied Syria with “Yakhont” missiles in the past, and the new models are even more advanced.
It is worth noting that on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, warned that Moscow would continue to supply Syria with weapons in accordance with past agreements, including agreements regarding air defence. This was considered a failure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s part to convince Moscow not to supply Syria with “S-300” missiles.
Lavrov had also stated that Russia does not intend to sign any new agreements with Syria, but his country would remain fully committed to the agreements signed previously.
Moreover, Ron Ben-Yishai wrote in “Yedioth Ahronoth” that the main reason for the recent tension on the northern front is based on the interest of the Iranian and the Syrian regime and enables them to reinforce Hezbollah and expedite its arming in the current situation.
He added that Tehran’s predictions indicate that by the end of 2013, the US and Israel are expected to decide to carry out a military operation against the Iranian nuclear plants, and therefore, Iran is concerned with deterring Israel and the West from making such a decision by threating to cause destruction and severe losses on the internal Israeli front.
Ben-Yishai also wrote that Iran and Syria have a mutual interest in increasing “the precision, destructive strength, and quantity of Hezbollah’s missiles, as well as protecting it from Israeli attacks attempting to destroy it.”
He also wrote that we may believe that Israel does not intend to allow Iran and Syria to achieve their goal of increasing the level of threat against the Israeli internal front, nor does it intend to allow Hezbollah to diminish the capabilities of the Israeli army to quickly neutralise any threat.