Russia sending anti-ship cruise missiles to Assad

posted at 8:01 am on May 17, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Last week, rumors began to swirl that Russia would sell Bashar al-Assad missile systems that would allow Syria to fight any NATO or US attempt to impose a no-fly zone.  Russia immediately denied it, which of course means that that’s exactly what they planned on doing all along.

Time for another reset button?

Russia has sent advanced antiship cruise missiles to Syria, a move that illustrates the depth of its support for the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad, American officials said Thursday.

Russia has previously provided a version of the missiles, called Yakhonts, to Syria. But those delivered recently are outfitted with an advanced radar that makes them more effective, according to American officials who are familiar with classified intelligence reports and would only discuss the shipment on the basis of anonymity.

Unlike Scud and other longer-range surface-to-surface missiles that the Assad government has used against opposition forces, the Yakhont antiship missile system provides the Syrian military a formidable weapon to counter any effort by international forces to reinforce Syrian opposition fighters by imposing a naval embargo, establishing a no-fly zone or carrying out limited airstrikes.

“It enables the regime to deter foreign forces looking to supply the opposition from the sea, or from undertaking a more active role if a no-fly zone or shipping embargo were to be declared at some point,” said Nick Brown, editor in chief of IHS Jane’s International Defense Review. “It’s a real ship killer.”

Hey, who has ships in the Mediterranean that might be needed to impose a blockade or no-fly zone?  Well, there’s the French, the British, and the US, of course.  I don’t believe that Syria needs anti-ship missiles to defend themselves against Cyprus or Malta.

Russia has now clearly come down as an opponent of Western intervention, to the point of armed conflict by proxy.  Never mind, for the moment, about what a ridiculously terrible idea Western intervention on behalf of the Islamist militias would be, although that may play a secondary role in Russia’s calculations.  (Don’t forget about their own problems with Islamists in the Caucasus.)  Putin is setting down markers and essentially positioning Russia in a superpower role in opposition to the US.

That has dangerous implications for the future even if we never lift a finger in Syria, and it also belies two canards.  First, post-Soviet Russia is not an ally, although not yet an enemy.  Second, despite the derogatory rhetoric from the Obama administration’s foreign-policy team about their predecessors, they’ve not done any better at dealing with Vladimir Putin, and arguably doing much worse. That’s because the problem wasn’t the US in the first place.

The UN wants a peace conference on Syria.  At least on this, Russia and the US agree:

A proposed international conference onSyria should be held as soon as possible, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday, but no date has yet been agreed for a meeting that appears to face growing obstacles.

Ban spoke as U.N. officials announced that the number of refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria, a conflict that has claimed the lives of 80,000 people over the past two years, had exceeded 1.5 million as conditions there deteriorate rapidly.

Western leaders have been cautious about the prospects of the talks achieving any breakthrough, and Russia’s desire that Iran should attend could complicate matters because of potential opposition from the West. The main Syrian opposition, expected to decide its stance next week, has previously demanded President Bashar al-Assad’s exit before any talks.

A rising death toll, new reports of atrocities by both sides, suspicion that chemical arms may have been used and the absence of prospects for a military solution have all pushed Washington and Moscow to agree to convene the conference.

It’s unlikely to take place unless the rebels give Assad a reason to sit down at the table (and vice versa), which means … it’s unlikely to take place.  Russia just upped the ante on intervention, and the question will be whether politicians in the US use that opportunity to get realistic about the choices in Syria or beat war drums over the need to look “credible.”

Addendum: Say, wasn’t John Kerry just in Russia?  How’d that work out?


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Epic fail

cmsinaz on May 17, 2013 at 7:58 AM

To be used against ships bring in arms to AQ backed Islamists. From Libya among other places.

It’s not like Russia didn’t warn the WH. Last fall.

MarkT on May 17, 2013 at 7:59 AM

Gee! I recall Romney being made fun of by the Obots for calling Russia one of our biggest geopolitical threats.

iceman1960 on May 17, 2013 at 8:00 AM

The past week’s events are nothing to what is coming over the next three years. I fear for our country and its people.

esr1951 on May 17, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Reset.

iceman1960 on May 17, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Blasted sequester!

Gatsu on May 17, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Will some shackle Obama to the red phone?

Don’t want him again hiding under his bed..

Electrongod on May 17, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Leave it to Obama to make a bad situation worse.

Liam on May 17, 2013 at 8:07 AM

They’ll blame bush somehow

cmsinaz on May 17, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Don’t want him again hiding under his bed..

Electrongod on May 17, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Why hide when you can fundraise??

TO VEGAS!

Gatsu on May 17, 2013 at 8:09 AM

First, post-Soviet Russia is not an ally, although not yet an enemy.

Er, they are an enemy.

Steve Eggleston on May 17, 2013 at 8:09 AM

Where’s Hillary on this?

TimBuk3 on May 17, 2013 at 8:10 AM

They’ll blame bush somehow

cmsinaz on May 17, 2013 at 8:08 AM

That’s all they have. Yet, not even liberals believe that any more.

Liam on May 17, 2013 at 8:10 AM

Flexibility in action

cmsinaz on May 17, 2013 at 8:10 AM

Will some shackle Obama to the red phone?

Don’t want him again hiding under his bed..

Electrongod on May 17, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Point of order – Teh SCOAMT believes the Red Phone is the modern equivalent of Mao’s Little Red Book.

Steve Eggleston on May 17, 2013 at 8:10 AM

Where’s Hillary on this?

TimBuk3 on May 17, 2013 at 8:10 AM

She’s busy overcharging everybody.

Steve Eggleston on May 17, 2013 at 8:11 AM

Putin is taking advantage while he can. Looking at Dog Eater and Jumpin’ Joe I’m mildly surprised that Pootie hasn’t invaded Alaska.

Bishop on May 17, 2013 at 8:12 AM

Last week, rumors began to swirl that Russia would sell Bashar al-Assad missile systems that would allow Syria to fight any NATO or US attempt to impose a no-fly zone.

The Russians sent their best stuff a while back to “protect” Syria when they were building a nuclear reactor. How did that work out for them?

dogsoldier on May 17, 2013 at 8:12 AM

Putin is taking advantage while he can. Looking at Dog Eater and Jumpin’ Joe I’m mildly surprised that Pootie hasn’t invaded Alaska.

Bishop on May 17, 2013 at 8:12 AM

Why would he? ANWR’s locked up, and the Alaska Pipeline is about to freeze up from lack of oil. Besides, the Soviet Unio…er, Russia hasn’t even really tapped into Siberia’s resources.

Steve Eggleston on May 17, 2013 at 8:15 AM

Is Kerry still waiting for Putin to come to the phone?

workingclass artist on May 17, 2013 at 8:16 AM

Putin is taking advantage while he can. Looking at Dog Eater and Jumpin’ Joe I’m mildly surprised that Pootie hasn’t invaded Alaska.

Bishop on May 17, 2013 at 8:12 AM

With us under Obama, now would be the time, actually.

But the Russians are smart. Obama is unpredictable, even to us. He’s also prone to hissy fits, and weak and mild in other areas.

Liam on May 17, 2013 at 8:17 AM

Putin is taking advantage while he can. Looking at Dog Eater and Jumpin’ Joe I’m mildly surprised that Pootie hasn’t invaded Alaska.

Bishop on May 17, 2013 at 8:12 AM

Were I to make a move as Putin, I’d take Hawaii first, along with all the Aleutian Islands. Then hold.

Liam on May 17, 2013 at 8:18 AM

The picture may be worth MORE than
a thousand words…..
And a certain someone
DOESN’T GET IT

Neal4007 on May 17, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Yup liam

cmsinaz on May 17, 2013 at 8:21 AM

hey I know why don’t we get rid of our nukes that way russia will really really really like us.

freaking idiots in charge of the US.

unseen on May 17, 2013 at 8:23 AM

You’re move President “Gutsy”. Bwahahaha. Pour me a vodka, Dmitry. And one for yourself. Let’s drink a toast to President “Flexible”. Bwahahaha. — Vladimir Putin

farsighted on May 17, 2013 at 8:24 AM

Up until recently, the Soviets, then the Russians, were the main supplier of weapons systems to all of the Arab nations. It’s been their primary market outside their own military. I see nothing different here.

Having said that, unless those cruise missiles are being mounted on mobile launchers, they’ll need SAM sites for protection, and thus be easily recognizable to imaging resources, as well as ESM and other intel systems. If NATO (or some other force) decides these are a danger to them, a preemptive strike to take them out would be at the top of the dance card.

TKindred on May 17, 2013 at 8:25 AM

Still one of the greatest pics of all time, perfectly encapsulating the utter contempt our adversaries have for the limp-wristed fart of a POTUS.

Bishop on May 17, 2013 at 8:26 AM

Russia has now clearly come down as an opponent of Western intervention, to the point of armed conflict by proxy.

When weren’t they? The Ruskies been providing arms to our enemies for decades.

fogw on May 17, 2013 at 8:27 AM

TKindred on May 17, 2013 at 8:25 AM

You’re thinking as an American strategist.

Obama is neither.

Liam on May 17, 2013 at 8:27 AM

Reds cross red line, Pres. parties with Pink, news at 11…

hillsoftx on May 17, 2013 at 8:28 AM

Russia’s missiles to compliment Obama’s massive influx of ammunition, courtesy of the DHS’s US pilfering.

Lourdes on May 17, 2013 at 8:28 AM

Yup liam

cmsinaz on May 17, 2013 at 8:21 AM

Quit talking to me and go kidnap hubby! *wink~

Liam on May 17, 2013 at 8:28 AM

russia is playing this well. He knows Obama is facing increasing backlash at home, is a squish about intervention and can not find the support for intervention. By doing this Russia is playing a trump card that costs him nothing. He cements his freindship with Assad and with Iran. He makes Russia a player in the middle east as the only power stopping the islamists from over taking the entire ME.

He props himself up in the world showing them that russia is ready to be the foil to the USA once again.

the way Obama should deal with this is a way he can’t take because of politcal/ideolgy reasons namely Obama should approve the keystone pipeline and fasttrack drilling permits putting the shale oil on the market and driving down the price of crude so Russia goes into an economic tailspin.

unseen on May 17, 2013 at 8:28 AM

Why would he? ANWR’s locked up, and the Alaska Pipeline is about to freeze up from lack of oil. Besides, the Soviet Unio…er, Russia hasn’t even really tapped into Siberia’s resources.

Steve Eggleston on May 17, 2013 at 8:15 AM

Why not is the better question. Do it just to slap Dog Eater in the face.

No I really don’t believe the Russians would invade Alaska because even Bark would be dragged to the situation room and forced to issue orders defending our territory. But you know that every one of our foes around the world are thinking the same thing, “Should I go for it, because that dude running the U.S. is a Nancy.”

Bishop on May 17, 2013 at 8:30 AM

With us under Obama, now would be the time, actually.

But the Russians are smart. Obama is unpredictable, even to us. He’s also prone to hissy fits, and weak and mild in other areas.

Liam on May 17, 2013 at 8:17 AM

Putin is taking advantage while he can. Looking at Dog Eater and Jumpin’ Joe I’m mildly surprised that Pootie hasn’t invaded Alaska.

Bishop on May 17, 2013 at 8:12 AM

Were I to make a move as Putin, I’d take Hawaii first, along with all the Aleutian Islands. Then hold.

Liam on May 17, 2013 at 8:18 AM

I mean this in all seriousness, I do wonder if Obama is making such as easy as possible. He’s all but washed and ironed a welcome mat before carefully laying it in place.

Lourdes on May 17, 2013 at 8:31 AM

In time Liam :)

Gotta to finish up a few things

cmsinaz on May 17, 2013 at 8:32 AM

But you know that every one of our foes around the world are thinking the same thing, “Should I go for it, because that dude running the U.S. is a Nancy.”

Bishop on May 17, 2013 at 8:30 AM

More like a flirting Nancy. If not a soliciting Nancy.

Lourdes on May 17, 2013 at 8:33 AM

I mean this in all seriousness, I do wonder if Obama is making such as easy as possible. He’s all but washed and ironed a welcome mat before carefully laying it in place.

Lourdes on May 17, 2013 at 8:31 AM

the only thing stopping our enemies at this point is our nukes. Hey guess what Obama wants to get rid of?

unseen on May 17, 2013 at 8:33 AM

First, post-Soviet Russia is not an ally, although not yet an enemy.

Russia is an Realpolitik adversary of the US and the West in the Great Geopolitical Game.

But then, it can be argued, so is Comrade O.

The difference is that Putin is a realist and a former socialist totalitarian authoritarian who has dispensed with the socialist window dressing. Comrade O is an unrealistic idealistic socialist totalitarian authoritarian. Advantage Putin.

farsighted on May 17, 2013 at 8:33 AM

Mentioned this in a post last week…a dig a both JFKerry and Barry, the Light Giver.

Syria is and has been a strategic ally of Russia going back decades. Latakia is viewed as a Russian port on the Med.

Not for one moment will Russia allow some band of hopped up mohammedan jihadis to take over and whilst shouting allahakhbar slaughter Russians in Syria…or anywhere else.

Russia is not going to fall in behind Obama…ever…and especially when doing so would run contrary to Russia’s strategic interests.

The current “problem” in Syria can easily be laid at the feet of our very own Light Giver. Let’s not do the famous Obama redirect to fix blame on Russia, not on this one.

coldwarrior on May 17, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Where’s Hillary on this?

TimBuk3 on May 17, 2013 at 8:10 AM

Practicing her cackle.

Lourdes on May 17, 2013 at 8:36 AM

But you know that every one of our foes around the world are thinking the same thing, “Should I go for it, because that dude running the U.S. is a Nancy….”

Bishop on May 17, 2013 at 8:30 AM

“…. And the girly-man is very busy right now with domestic scandals”.

The bad guys were planning to make their moves soon anyway, now that they know he is weak and indecisive. They may conclude the timing will never be better than now, or the immediate future.

farsighted on May 17, 2013 at 8:38 AM

The current “problem” in Syria can easily be laid at the feet of our very own Light Giver. Let’s not do the famous Obama redirect to fix blame on Russia, not on this one.

coldwarrior on May 17, 2013 at 8:35 AM

DITTO.

Just community-organizin’!

Lourdes on May 17, 2013 at 8:39 AM

I got your “flexible” right here, Barkski.

Cleombrotus on May 17, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Addendum: Say, wasn’t John Kerry just in Russia? How’d that work out?

About as well as Mde Hillary visits to the Comrades in the East….

Question: How reliable is this report? Are we sure these are anti-ship missile vs. Surface to Surface? Either will be bad news overall, but Russian AS tech is nothing to take lightly.

They (unlike our own political leaders) have pursued technology that would be fatal to Navy Aircraft Carriers for decades now and make no mistake: we lose one or even a whole Task Force, that negates the slim advantage we have in projecting power globally…

Not to mention reenforcing *any* troop garrisons *ANYWHERE*.

Thought what happened in Benghazi was bad? Multiply that when they deploy American Arms for a Syrian “Police Action” and the Navy has to play catch-up.

Bad enough we can’t even fight a “Win-Hold” strategy, we’ll be lucky if it’s a “Hold until the French Arrive” strategy.

Smart Power abounds at 1600!

BlaxPac on May 17, 2013 at 8:58 AM

Obama’s strategy in Syria is likely to leave al-Queda in charge of the country. Russia is doing us a favor if they keep Assad in power.

thuja on May 17, 2013 at 9:22 AM

I don’t think the USN spends too much time off the Syrian coast anyway, at least not openly. This makes Lebanon the more likely battlefield in the future which as we know is spiked with Hamas fighters to deter that route. At this point, Jordan is the only easy option for entry into Syria, although I’m sure Russia in generating plans for that area as well.

I think the bigger point here is that Russian is doing this just to badger the US. I’m not sure that there are any real significant geopolitical implications for Russia is Assad falls. It’s more Putin just sticking it to the US because he can with Obama in office. This is all the result of a weak president.

Aplombed on May 17, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Now, if America had an actual leader, Poland might just be taking possession of some missiles, about now.

OldEnglish on May 17, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Where are those anti war protesters these days?

alecj on May 17, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Obama’s policy of flexibility enacted.

BLOC on May 17, 2013 at 9:47 AM

As I understand it, we should have more flexibility now.

BobMbx on May 17, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Russia would sell Bashar al-Assad missile systems that would allow Syria to fight any NATO or US attempt to impose a no-fly zone

…f l e x i b i l i t y !

KOOLAID2 on May 17, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Wicked smaht power!

Punchenko on May 17, 2013 at 10:17 AM

That has dangerous implications for the future even if we never lift a finger in Syria, and it also belies two canards. First, post-Soviet Russia is not an ally, although not yet an enemy.

What lunatic ever claimed Russia was an ally?

These missiles will be important targets for Israel to take out, bet on that.

slickwillie2001 on May 17, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Addendum: Say, wasn’t John Kerry just in Russia? How’d that work out?

I’d say they took the measure of the man and found him lacking.

AZfederalist on May 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM

First, post-Soviet Russia is not an ally, although not yet an enemy.

Sorry, but while we may not be at war, the Russian government is our enemy. So is the Chinese government. Not recognizing the realities isn’t helpful. They want to drag us down and take our place, and they will do anything they think they can get away with to achieve that goal. That is why Putin is continually baiting and mocking Barky and countering his moves. That is why China engages in cyber warfare.

Wake the f*** up.

novaculus on May 17, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Addendum: Say, wasn’t John Kerry just in Russia? How’d that work out?

I’d say they took the measure of the man and found him lacking.

AZfederalist on May 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Pizza delivery boys are treated with more courtesy than JF’nK was.

slickwillie2001 on May 17, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Were I to make a move as Putin, I’d take Hawaii first, along with all the Aleutian Islands. Then hold.

Liam on May 17, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Funny you should mention Hawaii – the Russian-American Company made claims in that state.

Steve Eggleston on May 17, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Were I to make a move as Putin, I’d take Hawaii first, along with all the Aleutian Islands. Then hold.

Liam on May 17, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Dunno about Hawaii; the Russian navy is a joke. But Alaska, sure, especially for the oil wealth.

MelonCollie on May 17, 2013 at 10:41 PM