Following indications that the President Barack Obama led government is considering launching airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Russian Defense Ministry on Thursday warned that it will shoot down American aircraft if such a campaign was launched.
The Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov, in a statement, said any US strikes on areas controlled by Mr Assad could jeopardise the lives of Russian servicemen, Reuters reports.
The statement said: “I would recommend our colleagues in Washington to carefully weigh possible consequences of the fulfilment of such plans.”
“Let me remind the [so-called] American ‘strategists’: the Russian military bases in [Latakia] and Tartus are covered by S-400 and S-300 air defense systems, the range of which may come as a surprise to unidentified flying objects.”
“Therefore, any missile or air strikes on the territory controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat to Russian servicemen.”
“Russian air defense system crews are unlikely to have time to determine in a ‘straight line’ the exact flight paths of missiles and then who the warheads belong to. And all the illusions of amateurs about the existence of ‘invisible’ jets will face a disappointing reality.”
While in Washington, the State Department spokesman John Kirby responded:
“We’re looking at the full range of options here and those comments notwithstanding, we still have a responsibility as a government to consider all those options.
“I don’t find them (comments like the warning) helpful to moving forward, to reach some sort of diplomatic solution here. But the Russians should speak for themselves and why they’re saying that kind of thing.”
The statement from Russia is coming barely days after reports emerged that Moscow had deployed additional S-300 surface-to-air missile batteries to its air base in the Assad-controlled Syrian region of Latakia.
Russia is in Syria providing air support to Assad’s forces, as they battle to retake positions to the east.
Dialogue between the United States and Russia in Syria has in the past week completely broken down, with hopes for a renewed cease-fire falling to the wayside.