Moscow is using the time up until Russian President Vladimir Putin faces US President Barack Obama across the G20 conference table in Los Cabos, Mexico Sunday, June 17 – or in its corridors – to ship sophisticated arms to Syria able to prevent a no-fly zone and a fleet of warships to the Mediterranean port of Tartus.
While Pentagon sources Friday disclosed the approach of a “small contingent” of Russian warships to Tartus, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence
sources have discovered that heading for the Russian base at this Syrian port is a Russian fleet that includes Ropucha-toad or Project 775 class landing-craft carrying Russian marines. Each craft can carry 250 marine personnel and 500-ton armored vehicles.
And flying overhead are Russian air transports that are touching down at Syrian air bases bearing, according to our sources, a variety of sophisticated munitions for the Syrian army: advanced Russian Pantsyr-S1 anti-air missiles capable of hitting fighter-bombers flying at an altitude of 12 kilometers and cruise missiles; self-propelled medium range anti-air Buk-M2 missiles (NATO codenamed SA-11). They are capable of downing aircraft flying at an altitude of 14 kilometers and Mach 32 speed; and shore-based Bastion anti-ship missiles which can reach vessels sailing 300 kilometers out to sea.
Russia is, in a word, supplying Bashar Assad, his regime and his army, with the very weapons they may need for warding off Western and Arab air efforts to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, while at the same time enabling him to repel seaborne assaults by his foes from the Mediterranean.