Friday, May 17, 2013
Israel And Russia At The Brink Over Arms Shipments To Syria, Hezbollah
A meeting between Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu ended in a deadlock earlier this week when Netanyahu's attempt to convince Putin not to send advanced Russian arms to Syria and Hezbollah fell on deaf ears.
In particular, the Israelis are concerned about Russia supplying Hezbollah and Syria with S-300 surface-to-air missile defense systems and Yakhont anti-ship missiles.
Putin was reportedly angry about the USS Kearsarge docking at the Israeli port of Eilat with 1,800 marines and a consignment of 20 V-22 Osprey helicopters, which Secretary of State Hagel had promised to supply Israel with during his last trip to Israel. From Putin's viewpoint, he sees it as duplicity for the Obama Administration to talk about Russia and the US working on a diplomatic solution to the Syrian War on the one hand while the US is bringing troops into the region and deploying them. The Marines are likely bound for the Jordanian/Syrian border.
Needless to say, Putin is not at all concerned about how the presence of Russian military in Syria looks to anyone else. He's committed to preserving Assad and Syria as a Russian client.According to US sources quoted in the Wall Street Journal today, Putin warned Israel not to interfere with the Russian arms shipments.
Actually, according to my sources, Putin even went further, warning the Israelis that any attempt to destroy the shipments could lead to a war in which Russia might conceivably get involved, especially if its nationals were killed. Netanyahu countered by telling Putin that Israel would continue to hit advanced weapons shipments bound for Syria or Hezbollah, and that if President Bashar Assad attacked Israel the Israelis would destroy Assad's military capabilities.
The Russians have doubled down in favor of Assad by vastly increasing their naval faces in the region.Russia currently has 11 ships in the eastern Mediterranean, organized into three taskforces, including destroyers, frigates, support vessels and intelligence-collecting ships. The group includes the destroyer Admiral Panteleyev, two amphibious warfare ships called Peresvet and Admiral Nevelskoi, a tanker and a tugboat.Another three-ship group of amphibious attack vessels is headed to the region.
The ships come from Russia's Pacific Fleet, the first time Russian warships from that fleet have ever appeared in the Mediterranean. Our Egyptian 'friends' allowed them to use the Suez Canal.
US CIA head John Brennan is in Israel today and Israel's Channel 10 is reporting that he's been in serious meetings with Israeli defense Minister Moishe 'Boogie' Y'aalon and PM Netanyahu. The Israelis are not going to allow advanced weapons to get into the hands of Syria or Hezbollah even if they have to kill a few Russian technicians and trainers to do it. It certainly wouldn't be the first time.
In fact, during the '67 and especially during the '73 Yom Kippur War, the Israelis had no problems handling Soviet pilots flying the most advanced 'Egyptian and Syrian' Migs or dealing with Soviet military 'advisers' on the ground. In fact, a number of them were captured alive by the Israelis and exchanged later after a through debriefing by both the Shin Bet and our CIA.
What I'm reasonably certain is that Brennan is counseling the Israelis to hold off on any strikes to allow our clueless Secretary of State John Kerry to try and work out something with Putin.
The Israelis may wait for a short time, but in the end, they will act, just as they ended up acting to put the cork in the bottle on Syria's nuclear reactor back in 2007, in spite of determined obstruction by Condi Rice and Robert Gates. If Israel had listened to them, Basher Assad would probably have a couple of nuclear warheads by now.
On the other hand, the Russians have backed down before when it comes to shipments of S-300's and similar weaponry before.