Russia called on Friday for military-to-military cooperation with the United States to avert "unintended incidents" as it stages navy exercises off the coast of Syria, where U.S. officials believe Moscow is building up forces to protect President Bashar al-Assad.
Because as part of their troop build up in Syria to defend Assad, Russia is including their most advanced air defense missiles:
In the latest reports, two Western officials and a Russian source told Reuters Moscow is sending advanced SA-22 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. The system would be operated by Russian troops, rather than Syrians, the Western officials said.
In case ISIL gets an air force, I assume?
In reality, this will create a safe zone for Assad that Israel will have to think twice before striking if they find targets in there.
And of course, with advanced missiles and the advanced detection systems in place, we can reassess my earlier comments on a report that Russia was sending Mig-31 interceptors to Syria (again, in case ISIL gets an air force?):
I'll guess that the main job of these planes is to react to any hints of the presence of an F-22 in Syrian airspace and rapidly fly to the location to find our plane.
Remember, the F-22 isn't invisible. If the Syrians (with possibly Russian pilots) can get a plane close to one, the eyeball can spot it.
That will be a signal by Assad to us that we can't fly through Syrian airspace at will. And the Russians will learn about how to detect and intercept the F-22.
I'll have to refine my speculation. I think the Russians will go F-22 hunting. Can you imagine the propaganda value of shooting down one of our most advanced fighters over Syria in an "unintended incident" that is totally our fault because we wouldn't file flight plans for our air missions with the Russian air defense people?
And learning how to detect the F-22 first-hand will pay dividends to shoot down more later--and make us more cautious about using them.
And make the reassurance value of deploying them in show-the-flag missions--as we recently did in eastern Europe--much lower.
UPDATE: Related to the Israel angle:
Israeli and Russian diplomats are quietly trying to work out an arrangement regarding the recent Russian military buildup in Syria. Russia plans to bring in warplanes and modern anti-aircraft systems and already has several hundred soldiers and air force personnel operating near the Syrian coast. The Israelis have bombed previous shipments of Russian anti-aircraft systems into Syria because they were believed likely to end up in Lebanon (with Iran backed Hezbollah) or in Iran itself. This could get ugly.
Will Assad use the Russian shield to get weapons to Hezbollah? Will Russia go along? Will Israel let that shield deter them from preventing Hezbollah from getting weapons Israel deems too threatening?
I suppose Israel could cut the Gordian Knot by simply going into Lebanon to smash up Hezbollah at the source.