The S300 anti-aircraft missiles that Russia has reportedly started sending to Syria don't just pose a threat to Israeli or American pilots; they also pose a threat to Russians on the ground.
If Israel or the U.S. bomb the S300 weapons in Syria, there's a good chance they " will kill a lot of Russians," Robert Hewson, editor of IHS Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, said to the Guardian.
Hewson's conclusion comes from the fact that these weapons systems are far more advanced than what Syria already has. Russian operators would need to be on the ground to oversee the weapons.
This is not the first time the same sentiment has been expressed about bombing runs in Syria putting Russia and the West in direct armed conflict. The Guardian reported on Russian military advisors manning Syrian air defenses late last year.
Russia's decision to arm embattled president Bashar Al-Assad is another step toward a more overt proxy war with the West. At stake is the prospect of regime change in Syria, which America supports and Russia doesn't.
Russia's decision to send S300's could easily be seen as directly countering these statements.
"If your plan is to waltz into Syrian airspace and start bombing things this is a big wrinkle," said Hewson.
It's unclear whether the U.S. or Israel has the ability to disable these systems prior to launching any bombing sorties, though Israel has previously boasted that they could dismantle the S300 system.
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