Another Trump aggressive tweet directed at Russia, President of the United States Of America Donald Trump threatened it with “smart” missiles coming its way. “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it” the tweet read. President Trump tweeted about a variety of subjects, including about the story published by The New York Times about him and trade with China.
He straightforwardly admitted that the relations between Russia and the United States are at an all-time low, lower than even Cold war times. Russia has already warned the western coalition about the repercussion if an attack is carried out against the Syrian regime. However, a specific reply to President Trump’s tweet, on part of Russia, is still anticipated. Since the start of Syrian conflict, the Syrian government has claimed to have shot down the missiles several times, which were directed toward key government installments.
But the credibility of these claims has always been dubious. But yesterday, instead of Syria, Russia went on to state that about five to eight Israeli cruise missiles, shot by Israeli F-16s from over Lebanese airspace, have been intercepted and destroyed by Syrian air defense. If it is true, then it is most likely that Russian military hardware was used for the purpose. It not only makes a good message to those powers who are opposing the Assad regime but also aims to strengthen the notion that Russia is not going to bow down to international pressure over alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria. Without applying the relevant technical conditions, for simple understanding, the answer is “Yes, Russia is more than capable of doing so”.
It’s been over a year now since Russian S-400 missile defense system is installed in Syria; though it is yet to be used in the conflict. The system is constituent of the state-of-the-art modern technology of detection, alert and interception of incoming hostile projectiles. With a range of 400 Km, maximum altitude of 30 Km and ability to intercept 30 targets simultaneously, S-400 is pretty much capable of halting any missile attack by the United States.
But certain subtleties in the equation turn the scenario a bit more complicated. For instance, Israel has used massive air strikes against Syria in the last couple of months which has inflicted substantial damage to its air defense capabilities. Interesting development here is that, despite having S-400 at disposal, it was not even used for once, indicating the limited relevant resources. It would imply that if an all-out massive air strike operation is carried out United States, United Kingdom and France together, S-400 could be eliminated as a deterrent, leaving Syrian defense assets exposed.
But what remains to be seen is that will Russia take an offensive course as well? The probability is low, keeping in view the escalation which would follow. President Trump intentionally used the term “smart missiles” which may have two possible implications. First, to make Russians think about the invincibility which their advanced air defense systems have permitted them. Though the said systems have increased the confidence against all known US ballistic and cruise missiles, it could trigger them to reconsider about the possibility that the United States may have something new in their arsenal, capable enough to bypass interception.
Bewildering the opposition and making them doubt their own strengths have been a proven and tested strategy of war since ages. Secondly, United Nations and the global community have been asking for a ceasefire in Syria due to the persistent humanitarian crisis. Syrian population has been the victim of all-directional bombing and fighting.
The possible implication of “smart missiles” term could be to appease the global community that American missiles will only be hurting Syrian forces and not its population. The Syrian conflict has entered into its 8th year, with the matter only getting more complex. Global powers are using the Godforsaken country to gain a larger stake in the global politics, at the expense of the suffering of common Syrian people. It is indeed one of the worst humanitarian crises of contemporary world which needs to be resolved immediately.