The Russian government announced Monday that it plans to send an air-defense system to Syria within the next two weeks, in response to a strike on a Russian maritime control aircraft last week that killed 15 servicemen. The Wall Street Journal reports that the plane was shot down by a Syrian air-defense system while the nation was defending itself against Israeli jets, but Russia eventually blamed Israel for using its plane as a decoy to draw fire from Syria’s current air-defense system. As a result, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will now receive a S-300 missile system, which Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claims can intercept multiple targets within a 250km range. “We are confident that these measures will cool hotheads and prevent them from taking thoughtless steps that might put our servicemen in harm’s way,” Shoigu said. This is a departure from Putin’s original stance on the casualties, which he first said was the result of “a string of tragic coincidences.” The Journal notes that this reversal will likely escalate tensions between Russia and Israel, and will raise the risk of escalation in the multi-country battle over Iran establishing a presence in Syria.
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