Moscow has already started delivering the S-300 Russian anti-aircraft missile systems to Damascus, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a press conference in New York, reports RBC news agency.
"The S-300s have already begun to arrive in Syria," said the head of the ministry noting that, in accordance with the president's [Putin] order, deliveries began "immediately after the incident" with Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft over the Mediterranean Sea.
Lavrov assured that Moscow will equip the Syrian air defense command points with automated control systems which only the Russian armed forces have. In addition, according to the minister, the Russian military will carry out radio-electronic suppression of satellite navigation, airborne radar and communications systems of military aviation, which attempt to attack targets in Syrian territory.
On September 24, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu announced that Russia would begin deliveries of S-300 systems to Syria. The Russian decision to send these systems to Syria came after the downing of the Russian Il-20 military aircraft over the Mediterranean Sea. The aircraft was shot down on September 17 while returning to Khmeimim airbase. Fifteen Russian soldiers were killed as a result of this incident. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the IL-20 was shot down from a Syrian S-200 anti-aircraft while trying to repel an attack of Israeli aircraft in Latakia.
The Kremlin explained that the purpose of delivery of S-300 systems to Damascus is to ensure the safety of Russia military personnel. Presidential representative Dmitry Peskov then noted that the downing of the IL-20 was the result of the deliberate actions of the Israeli pilots.
The United States expressed discontent over Russia's plans to supply S-300 systems to Syria. In particular, the US National Security Advisor, John Bolton said that Moscow’s actions would lead to a “significant escalation” of tensions in the region. The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, voiced a similar opinion. During a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 24, he said that the supply of advanced weapons systems to "irresponsible players" heightens risks in the Middle East region. The Russian president during his conversation with Netanyahu, in turn, called the decision to supply the S-300 to Syria an adequate response to the current situation.